Weeknight Cooking

Braised Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes and Garlic

February 19, 2013

Merrill's baby Clara is finally old enough to eat solid foods. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, Merrill steps into the fray.

Today: Chicken on the bone makes great finger food!

Clara eating braised chicken

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Kids like chicken fingers. I feel pretty confident saying that. They're salty, they're crunchy, and it's acceptable to eat them with your hands.

Every week, I see parents in my neighborhood who wouldn't be caught dead at McDonald's tucking boxes of frozen organic chicken fingers into their shopping carts. My mother, who raised us almost entirely on homemade meals from scratch, made killer baked chicken fingers crusted with herbed breadcrumbs -- and my sister and I always requested them for our birthday parties.

Clara eating braised chicken

We have yet to give Clara chicken fingers (you can be sure that when we do I'll ask my mother for her recipe), but we've found a reasonable substitute. She didn't show much interest in chicken until I did two things: braised it with tomatoes (a magic ingredient that makes all other foods more desirable), and let her eat it off the bone. Now chicken is one of her favorite foods.

These days, I make a big batch of chicken thighs braised in tomatoes and garlic every week. We put on Clara's smock/bib and give her a thigh, and she gnaws at the meat like a little terrier until the bone is scraped clean. Once she's in bed, we enjoy shallow bowls of braised chicken thighs with tomatoey garlicky juices over orzo.

Win win.

Braised Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes and Garlic

Braised Chicken with Tomatoes and Garlic

Serves 4

8 chicken thighs on the bone, skin-on
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
20 ounces canned chopped tomatoes (I prefer tetra-pack)
1 cup chicken stock (homemade or low sodium)
2 sprigs thyme
Orzo or rice for serving

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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  • boulangere
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I'm a native New Yorker, Le Cordon Bleu graduate, former food writer/editor turned entrepreneur, mother of two, and unapologetic lover of cheese.


boulangere March 1, 2013
My son would devour one, then reach for more. The daughter preferred smashing mashed potatoes or rice into her mouth/onto her face/into her hair. Today at 23, she continues to pursue a vegetarian diet.
KellyA February 27, 2013
I read. I made. I devoured. That was delicious, thank you!!!!
Lee B. February 24, 2013
When my girls were little (now 35, 33 and 25) a chicken leg or thigh was a favorite. Our eldsest held onto a thigh bone for about a week once when she was teething. Life simple pleasures are the best!
erskinechef February 24, 2013
Thanks for this recipe and please post the chicken finger recipe when you receive it, my kids love chicken fingers!
kate H. February 24, 2013
Precious little one you have. I remember when my oldest was 5 years old he kept asking me for chicken on a stick like his friends mom would make. I had no idea what he was talking about--turns out it was a drumstick! The only chicken I ever cooked with and he knew about were boneless breasts! We still laugh about chicken on a stick! This looks like a lovely quick and easy adult meal.
LaurieinTO March 13, 2013
When my son was a toddler he called drumsticks "chicken on the cob", since corn was another favourite.
Lorenza February 24, 2013
Can't tell if C is a lefty or a righty. She is so precocious I am betting she may be ambidextrious ;-o)))
coffeefoodwrite February 20, 2013
Ah, she's so cute ! Love the story....
mbj913 February 20, 2013
all these posts of yours on baby food inspired me to post on whole grain baby cereals.
mcs3000 February 19, 2013
Beautiful pics! btw: I could use an adult version of that bib. Would save a ton on dry cleaning.
LE B. February 20, 2013
I know you're joking, but because I wear what I eat, I do use an adult bib>some beautiful fabric napkins/dish clothes from April Cornell. just sayin'!
HalfPint February 19, 2013
What a good eater she is! You must be so relieved.
nlgeiger February 19, 2013
This made me smile - our "little girl" just got her license and we still call it chicken on the bone! She relished hers the same way!
glammie February 19, 2013
I make something very similar ... brown the thighs and then add onions, garlic, tomatoes, wine, stock and lentils. Braise for an hour ... done.
mariaraynal February 19, 2013
Clara is cuter than cute. Those giant blue eyes! Love this series.
Kitchen B. February 19, 2013
Adorable. Clara. Talented. James. The bone rules!
LE B. February 19, 2013
on the 52 Home Page,under your 'clara' entry today, i saw the next feature as 'clarified butter'. sounds like some good pun opportunities to me, yes?!
fiveandspice February 19, 2013
Clara clearly has excellent taste, enjoying a little bone gnawing! And she pulls it off way more adorably than I think any of the rest us manage to.
Brette W. February 19, 2013
These photos are priceless.
bluejeangourmet February 19, 2013
I wanted to say that this series has been so helpful and inspiring to me; I have a seven month old, and after just one month of eating solids, he's now eating modified versions of our meals. That was my goal after reading about Clara's eating adventures, so I wanted to thank you for your ideas and straightforward approach. In a world where the topic of what and how to feed your baby seems to quickly devolve into ideological warfare, this series is so refreshing. Not to mention, it's an added joy to watch that beautiful baby girl grow!
Author Comment
Merrill S. February 19, 2013
What a nice comment -- so glad this has been helpful to you. I think we're all just doing our best to muddle through...
aargersi February 19, 2013
A little terrier. That kills me! The picture is, as always, priceless. I wish we could get her and Ginger side by side with their chicken - Ginger prefers a raw wing drumette - no tomato. That would be a photo to remember :-)
Author Comment
Merrill S. February 19, 2013