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Red Wine-braised Chicken Legs

Spencer Huey

Serves 4-6 people

Red Wine-braised Chicken Legs with Tomatoes, Capers, and Castelvetrano Olives


4 chicken leg quarters (4lbs - you can use thighs or legs, just lessen the cooking time)
olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
1 shallot, fine diced
3-4 garlic cloves, sliced
1.5 cups red wine
1 - 14oz can of whole tomatoes
thyme, few sprigs
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or less)
3/4 cup castelvetrano olives, crushed and pitted
2 anchovy fillet, chopped
3 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 lemon


Season chicken with salt and brown on both sides in a heavy bottomed pot (like a le creuset) with olive oil. Give the chicken room to brown and resist the urge to touch it in the pan. It should take about 6-7 min per side. This will give the dish a deep and complex flavor. Remove chicken and drain most of the fat. Leave brown bits (if they’re too dark, wash the pot).
In a bit of the chicken fat on medium heat, sweat the onion, carrot and celery until softened (7-10 min). You don’t want to see color on the vegetables. Add the shallot and garlic. Cook for another 2 min. Add the red wine, 1 -14oz whole tomatoes (squish the whole tomatoes with your hands to break them down a bit but we still want chunks) thyme, bay, and crushed red pepper. Cook and reduce wine for a few min.
Add the crushed (and pitted) castelvetrano olives, anchovy filets, and tablespoons capers. Taste and adjust with salt. Set browned legs in (skin side up) in sauce (or put sauce in baking dish and put legs on top). The sauces should look pretty chunky with vegetables with some liquid. The chicken will release more liquid as it cooks adding to the final sauce. You’ll want to add more but don’t. Cook covered in a 325 oven for 35-45 min until chicken is tender. You can also cook it on the stove on very low heat with the lid on. Finish with chopped parsley and lemon juice/zest. Serve with crusty bread or with polenta.

This recipe is really adaptable to use whatever you have available. The basics are to brown the legs. Create an aromatic sauce with onions, garlic, tomato, wine and spices. Braise the chicken slowly until done.

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