Braised Chicken Thighs with Tomato and Garlic

February 18, 2013
13 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

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.

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. —Merrill Stubbs

Watch This Recipe
Braised Chicken Thighs with Tomato and Garlic
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 4
  • 8 chicken thighs on the bone, skin-on
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • 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
In This Recipe
  1. Pat the chicken thighs dry. Season them liberally on all sides with salt. Heat the olive oil in large, heavy sauté pan with high sides over medium heat. Brown the chicken thighs on both sides in two batches, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and keep warm. Pour off all but about a tablespoon of fat in the pan.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until you can smell it, about a minute. (Don't let it burn.) Add the canned tomatoes, chicken stock and a large pinch of salt, and turn the heat up until the liquid comes to a simmer, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon as they loosen. Add the thyme and then nestle the chicken thighs, skin-side-up in the sauce.
  3. Partially cover the pan and turn down the heat so that the sauce is simmering gently. Cook for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is tender.
  4. If the sauce is thin, transfer the chicken to a clean plate and keep warm while you turn up the heat for a few minutes so that the sauce simmers and thickens a bit. Don't let it cook down too much -- you want this to be pretty saucy.
  5. Return the chicken to the sauce and heat through before serving over orzo or rice.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jason Soucie
    Jason Soucie
  • FrugalCat
  • Jacqueline Elling
    Jacqueline Elling
  • Lindsay Sadler
    Lindsay Sadler
  • SophieL

61 Reviews

Jason S. December 10, 2020
This recipe is great. The only change I made is I cooked the thighs skin side down on a skillet for 15 minutes to get a nice crispy skin, then made sure the sauce didn’t boil over the skin on the thighs when in the pan(I also cooked uncovered in the pan - it came out perfectly fine). I also added 1/2 a yellow onion, diced, in with the garlic and
sonomagal September 26, 2020
With a enormous garden tomato harvest I made several rounds of spaghetti sauce for the freezer; but then I just made tomato sauce too. It has onion and garlic, tomatoes and a bit of wine, so I thought why not use that? I followed the recipe but added my chunky sauce, some capers, additional garlic, and some dry vermouth, I didn't have white wine. Deglazed the pan with the vermouth, added the tomatoes, capers and salt and pepper. Set it to cook as directed. It was so GOOD!!!
FrugalCat September 26, 2020
I used those fire-roasted diced canned tomatoes. Endlessly riffable- I'm thinking adding olives next time. Or capers. Or mushrooms. Or artichoke hearts. Or onions.
aroset July 14, 2020
This was delicious exactly as written! Can't believe I waited so long to try it but will be in regular rotation from now on.
Eliza May 3, 2020
This is a fabulous recipe. I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned, as I had some that had to be used. I will make this again. I may try adding wine to it the next time.
Jacqueline E. April 15, 2020
Awesome recipe! Simple and only uses one pan. Comfort food indeed. It's almost exactly how my mother made her "chicken in a pot" recipe. So it brought back great memories. To be more like mom's, I did add 1/2 pound of sliced mushrooms and used 2 bouillon cubes with a cup of white wine instead of broth just for the aroma factor. I moved the chicken to the sides and cooked the garlic in the center of the pan to save dirtying additional plates and then added everything once the garlic was tender. I love it!!! This will be my go-to comfort food. Thank you for the great recipe.
Lindsay S. November 24, 2019
This is also becoming a weekly recipe for me, I could drink the sauce! I like to add a little red wine with the tomatoes and stock, and I add red pepper flakes for some heat, and a dash of cream at the end and also add parmesan too. It is SO comforting and satisfying. I like a mix of breasts and thighs.
SophieL May 7, 2019
So easy, so delicious - great comfort food. I used the leftover tomato sauce to make Shakshusa for breakfast this morning. Double win-win!
Granna August 23, 2018
Beyond delicious and very manageable to prepare and cook. Packed with flavor!
Fred H. May 26, 2018
So simple, but bursting with flavors. I over did it with the salt (which says a lot for me), but it was still unbelievable. I considered adding capers. I'm glad I didn't. This is definitely one of my weekly go toos.
Illye March 13, 2018
I love this recipe. It is very easy but amazingly tasty. I make it for whole family including my kids(3 and 5 years old). I add sliced olives and roasted zucchini cubes(pan roast with oil, pepper and salt) and serve either over rice or short pasta. I am gonna make it tomorrow. :)
Charlotte S. January 24, 2018
A simple and delectable dish. We served this with sautéed broccoli with garlic. Perfect!
CondimentQueen January 26, 2018
Isn't this just the best? I have made it with more garlic, less garlic, white wine, broth, no broth and served it over everything from mashed potatoes to Israeli couscous. It is my go to comfort food and there is some in the refrigerator right now! :)
Mike March 12, 2017
Instead of serving this over rice I like to use the chicken to make tacos --> heat up some corn tortillas over the stove, massaged some chopped kale in olive oil, cut up the chicken into nice bite sized chunks then add some of the saucy tomatoes​, shredded parmesan and a little cracked pepp on top. Immediately following, drop the mic, cause you'll need both hands free to high five all your dinner guests.
Patti December 29, 2016
Easy chicken recipe that tasted good - garlic helps a lot and I added a bit of crushed red pepper flakes and served with penne and broccoli - good on a cold evening
Elizabeth N. April 12, 2016
I make this a few times a month, served over short grain brown rice or brown rice pasta(gluten free) I love using fire roasted tomato's and will add frozen green beans in while simmering and have a two pot meal!
Tasha D. April 9, 2016
Really good, I didn't have chicken stock, but, still good over rice. Will make it again.
Freebird February 9, 2016
Great weeknight meal! I used fire roasted tomatoes (tetra pak), added some good olives towards the end of cooking and served it over rice. Simple and delicious-thanks!
juliunruly December 21, 2015
Really like this, although I made several additions. White wine to deglaze like TIm Lang, crushed red pepper, meyer lemon zest, halved castelvetrano olives, quartered cippolini oinions, and some salted butter. The lemon zest didn't come through at all, so maybe I'll try a bit of juice next time. I didn't add any salt beyond what I put directly on the meat, and what was in the butter.
juliunruly December 21, 2015
Also skipped the rice and orzo, and just had crusty bread to sop things up.
Cary November 15, 2015
So delicious. Thank you, Merrill!
Gillian September 21, 2015
Hi, I am from the UK, can you let me know what is the different between chicken stock and chicken broth - or is there, a difference that is? Thanks.
Author Comment
Merrill S. September 23, 2015
The differences are subtle, especially when you're talking about store bought products. For this, you can use either stock or broth, with as little sodium as possible.
Cecilia R. August 17, 2020
I know this post is old but....stock is made using the meat and bone so it's more flavorful. Broth is made with just the meat. Both are good. Depending on the depth of flavor you want.