Soy-Lime Braised Chicken

Soy-lime braised chicken. Photo by Keri White

A friend texted me a link to a recipe recently with the message, “Make this.” I love my friends.

The link took me to a New York Times recipe for quick-braised bone-in chicken thighs in lime and soy — the author described it as not falling apart, but tender enough and weeknight-friendly since it only cooked for 45 minutes. I was intrigued by the flavors, but when I went to make the dish I hadn’t checked the larder and, as a result, lacked several of the required ingredients.

No matter — my main draw was the lime/soy flavor profile, so I started there and worked with what I had. Due to a late meeting, dinner was delayed, and it had more time to braise than the original recipe required, so we enjoyed oh-so-tender chicken.

Served over brown rice, it was a hit and, if I were to do this again, would double the batch and freeze the leftovers. For carb-avoiders, this could be offered in lettuce cups or over steamed or sauteed greens, but the sauce is pretty delicious over the rice. A side of garlicky kale complemented the dish perfectly.

We skipped dessert, but any of the following would be a delightful end to this meal: sorbet, ginger snaps, dark chocolate or fresh fruit.

Soy-Lime Braised Chicken
Serves 4

A note on the chicken: I used boneless breasts, which is what I had on hand, but this dish would sing with bone-in chicken, as the skin and bones deliver loads of flavor. If you use bone-in chicken, skip the stock and use water; the dish will make its own stock.

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 limes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1½ cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

In a large skillet with a cover, heat the oil and sauté the onions and garlic until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Add the chicken and sear it on both sides. Zest one of the limes, and set the zest aside.

Squeeze the juice of both limes into the pan, and add the soy sauce. Stir. Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper, and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer the chicken for about 1 hour or more until meat is falling apart when poked with a fork.

While the chicken cooks, flip it occasionally so that the liquid permeates both sides of the meat. Check the pan periodically during cooking to ensure there is sufficient liquid; if needed, add some water.

When done, pull the chicken apart with forks, then add the lime zest and cilantro. Stir, and cook a few minutes more. Serve over rice, noodles, greens or in lettuce cups.

Garlicky Kale
Serves 4

People tend to turn their noses up at kale, but that is because they have only had it when it is cooked to death into a pungent, bitter mush. This fresh take on kale will change even the most strenuous opponents. Served alongside (or underneath) the braised chicken, it is pretty perfect.

2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
½ teaspoon chili flakes
½ teaspoon salt
14 ounces kale, washed and chopped
½ cup chicken or vegetable stock, or water

Heat the oil in a large skillet; add the garlic, chili flakes and salt, stirring until fragrant.

Add the kale and the stock. Turn the kale with tongs until it is coated with the oil and broth. It will begin to turn bright green and wilt. Continue turning it over to cook. If more liquid is needed, add a little more stock or water.

Cook for about 10 minutes until the kale is wilted but retains a bit of crispness. l


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