To make the most of tender spring vegetables, it's important to use a gentle touch at the stove.
This not only results in a more delicious dish, it's also usually much less work. This simple braise of chicken legs and spring vegetables is a great example. Though the chicken cooks for 30 minutes in chicken stock, the vegetables steam in the same pot for just a few minutes.
For maximum flavor, we brown the chicken in a heavy pan before deglazing with a bit of white wine. This adds all the flavorful browned bits to the sauce. If you prefer chicken breasts over dark meat, you could certainly substitute them for the legs. For best flavor, opt for bone-in.
For the sauce, we use chicken stock rather than broth. Stocks are made with the flavorful bones, so they often have a deeper flavor than broths. You also can get stocks completely unsalted, unlike broths. This allows you to control the sodium you add to your dish. You should be able to find stocks alongside the broths and soups at the grocer.
Broccolini looks like baby broccoli on long, thin stalks. It's actually a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese kale, but with a mild, peppery flavor.
Braised chicken legs with spring vegetables
Start to finish: 1 hour (30 minutes active)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
4 chicken legs, skin and excess fat removed (can also substitute a mix of drumsticks and thighs)
Salt and ground black pepper
2 large sweet onions, quartered
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups no-salt chicken stock
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 bunch asparagus
1 bunch Broccolini
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
In a small bowl, mix together the butter and flour until completely smooth. Set aside.
In a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high, heat the oil. Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper. Working in batches, cook the chicken legs until well browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Add the onions to the pot and brown for 8 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits. Return the chicken legs to the pan along with the stock and thyme. Bring to a low simmer, then cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the chicken legs are tender, about 30 minutes.
When the chicken is cooked, place the asparagus and Broccolini over the chicken and cover. Allow the vegetables to steam for 4 to 5 minutes, or until just tender and bright green.
Transfer the chicken legs and vegetables to a platter. Increase the heat to medium-high and whisk in the flour and butter mixture. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the vinegar, then season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables.
Nutrition information per serving: 360 calories; 120 calories from fat (33 percent of total calories); 13 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 115 mg cholesterol; 24 g carbohydrate; 35 g protein; 5 g fiber; 310 mg sodium.