This braised red chile chicken recipe might remind you somewhat of the Hungarian dish – Paprika Chicken. The paprika pepper that creates a rather spicy and rich tasting Paprika Chicken is similar to that produced by the red chile powder used in this dish. However, that’s about as far as the similarities between the two dishes go. Paprika chicken uses cream or sour cream and is usually served over pasta, neither of which is the case here.
Braised Red Chile Chicken and Vegetables is actually more of a southwestern dish with some Mexican components as toppings. Instead of paprika I use New Mexico red chile powder and other traditional southwestern seasonings. The base or sauce is created using strained or crushed tomatoes which, once cooked down, create a rich sweet and spicy sauce. Because of this rich sauce, this dish can be served over rice, grits or polenta, or with flour tortillas that can be used to scoop it up so that nothing goes to waste.
As you’ll see, the sauce is different from my normal red chile sauce that uses dried chile peppers and no tomatoes. Because of that, this dish is relatively easy to make with no prior preparations required. It can be made in less that an hour, making it a nice dish for the middle of the week. Serve with a side salad and you have a delicious and healthy meal.
Braised Red Chile Chicken and Vegetables Recipe
Serves 4 to 6
Prep and Cook time: less than 1 hour
6 to 8 chicken thighs
2 Tbsp. olive oil or canola oil
½ onion, minced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. mild to medium red chile powder
½ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
2 Tbsp. liquid to deglaze (vermouth, brandy, tequila, water, stock)
2 to 3 cups strained tomatoes (6 or 8 thighs, respectively)
1 roasted red bell pepper, finely diced (See Kitchen Notes)
1 cup corn
Salt and pepper to taste
Green olive with pimentos, chopped
Feta cheese, crumbled
2 cups water or stock or a combination
1 cup uncooked rice
¼ tsp. salt
Start the rice
- Bring the water or stock to a boil.
- Add the rice, cover and bring back to a simmer.
- Reduce heat for a low simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until all of the water is absorbed and the rice is done.
- Remove the skin from the chicken thighs, rinse the thighs and pat dry.
- In a large skillet heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Once hot, add the thighs to the skillet. (You might need to cook the thighs in 2 batches depending on the size of your skillet.) Your oil should be hot enough for the chicken to sizzle when placed in the skillet. This helps to keep the chicken from sticking. I like to the use a spatula or tongs and move the chicken around a bit to keep it from sticking which can happen since the skin has been removed.
- Cook the chicken for 2 minutes per side and transfer to a plate.
- Reduce the heat to medium low, add the onion and garlic, and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the cumin and cook, stirring for another minute.
- Add the oregano and red chile powder. Stir for about 5 to 10 seconds then add the deglazing liquid. (Be sure not to go too long before adding the liquid before the chile powder can burn quite quickly.)
- Deglaze the pan, scraping up anything stuck to the bottom of the skillet.
- Add the tomatoes and red bell peppers.
- Return the chicken to the skillet. Pour any of the juices that have accumulated on the plates into the pan and stir.
- Bring to a low simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces over, add the corn, cover and cook another 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and let sit covered, for about 5 minutes while you prepare the toppings.
- Chop the green olives and crumble the feta.
- To plate, add a scoop of rice to the plate, top with a piece of chicken. Pour a little sauce over the chicken and rice and top with olives and feta.
The tomatoes – The other day I received these two boxes of Pomi tomatoes – chopped and strained. I had never tried Pomi so I was excited to see how they compared to the organic canned tomatoes that I’ve been buying for years. I was pleasantly surprised. Pomi is a 100% natural product with no additives and because they are packaged in a BPA-free recyclable box, there was no tinny taste. Even though they have no added salt, they did have a perfect balance of sweet and salty which, I’ll have to assume, comes from the Italian tomatoes that are used. The strained tomatoes (used for this dish) were sweet and tomato-y which was very complementary with the spicy red chile powder. The consistency of these tomatoes was instrumental in creating a thick, smooth sauce – exactly what I wanted. Now I can’t wait to use the chopped tomatoes. I might actually use those for a pasta dish.
Because the container is a box with no punch or pour spout, opening the box was a little tricky. I used scissors and just cut off the two flaps that folded down onto the side of the box, then cut along the top seam. This worked great and the tomatoes were easy to pour.
Disclaimer - I received no compensation for this review of Pomi tomatoes. The opinion expressed here is my own.
Amount of tomatoes for the sauce – When I make this with 6 pieces of chicken I only use 2 cups of strained or crushed tomatoes. When using 8 pieces, 3 cups is needed in order to have enough sauce. In both cases, the sauce is relatively thick, but I like it that way because it sticks to the chicken rather than runs off. If you like a thinner sauce, you could always add a little tomato.
The chicken – This recipe could be made with both dark and white meat. I personally think that dark meat is better for braising, but that may just be my personal taste. As far as removing the skin, I always remove the skin when braising. It adds too much fat to the braise if you leave it on and, in my opinion, braised chicken skin is inedible. I need chicken skin to be really crispy with all of its fat rendered in order for me to eat it.
The chile powder – If you’ve been reading my blog at all, you know what I’m going to say here – there’s no substitute for New Mexico red chile powder. Actually, if you don’t have any you can substitute other chile pepper powders such as paprika, a mix of paprikas (smoked and sweet), ancho powder, or a mix of several different chile powders, including a little cayenne. I use a mild to medium heat chile powder and with 2 Tbsp. – that is plenty of heat. The type(s) of chile powder you use will dictate the overall flavor of the dish, so make sure you really the like the pepper.
The vegetables – If you don’t have a roasted red bell pepper, you could use a raw one. Just minced it like you do the onion and add it at the beginning with the onion and garlic. If you don’t have corn, then do what a friend of mine did – add peas!
As far as what works best as the carbohydrate component, that’s a personal preference. Any of the ones I mentioned earlier – rice, grits, polenta or tortilla – work great. The main thing is that you need something to capture all of the sauce because you won’t want a bit of it to be left on the plate.