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Braised chicken thighs with Brussels sprouts and potatoes

Oven-braised chicken thighs with Brussels sprouts and potatoes is a hearty, one-pan meal – perfect for a winter night. Dried minced orange peel adds a bright citrusy note.

By Blue Kitchen / January 23, 2014

Combine winter vegetables Brussels sprouts and potatoes with braised chicken for a tasty stove top dish.

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I recently remembered a children’s book that was already ancient when I was a child. "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins," written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss, was first published in 1938. It tells the story of a boy who removes his hat as the king passes (as the law says he should), but a new one magically appears in its place. This happens again and again, until the boy is eventually threatened with death if he fails to bare his head.

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Blue Kitchen

Terry Boyd is the author of Blue Kitchen, a Chicago-based food blog for home cooks. His simple, eclectic cooking focuses on fresh ingredients, big flavors and a cheerful willingness to borrow ideas and techniques from all over the world. A frequent contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times, his recipes have also appeared on the Bon Appétit and Saveur websites.

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What got me thinking of young Cubbins’s troubles was a giant bag of Brussels sprouts in our fridge. We try very hard not to waste food, especially fresh produce. But it seemed the more sprouts we took from the bag for various meals, the more there were. To their credit, while they didn’t seem to be diminishing in quantity, they also weren’t going bad. That’s a great thing about most winter vegetables. They reliably last when you need them most.

But back to the book for a moment. I remember my grade school teacher reading "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins" to the class – I don’t remember the teacher, but the book itself. It made me unbelievably anxious as the king and his guards chased Bartholomew up the tower’s winding stone staircase, while he shed hat after hat. And after the “happy” outcome (spoiler alert: the final hats become more and more beautiful, the last being so magnificently bejeweled that the king “accepts” it as a gift and spares the boy), I just got irate. Because the same teacher who had read us this troublesome book had also told us about George Washington. And Abraham Lincoln.

What gave the king the right to take someone’s life for something as minor as not removing his hat? And why did the king seem to be ready to act on that right? No wonder we’d kicked out King George. The Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "The Emperor’s New Clothes" infuriated me for pretty much the same reasons. I would have made a terrible peasant back in feudal times.

You’re probably more interested in the Brussels sprouts, though. Specifically, cooked with chicken thighs and potatoes. This is a great winter dish on several levels. It’s satisfyingly hearty, a meat and potatoes (and sprouts) dish that uses the juiciest chicken cut, bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. It uses two winter vegetables, Brussels sprouts and potatoes (yes, potatoes are available all year long, but because they store so well in cold, they historically saw lots of action in winter). And you turn on the oven to make this dish, warming the kitchen nicely.

Braised chicken thighs with Brussels sprouts and potatoes is flavored by another winter treat, orange zest, giving it a subtle bright citrusy note. You’ll taste it in the chicken, but it particularly livens up and brightens up the Brussels sprouts. For this version, I used dried minced orange peel. You can add it to savory dishes, sweets and even to tea while it’s brewing. In the Kitchen Notes, you’ll find our source for dried minced orange peel as well as some substitutes.

I ended up making this dish twice. Yeah, we liked it that much. And it also helped us use up the last of the Brussels sprouts.

(See recipe next page)

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