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Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs with Black Bean Tapenade

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Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs with Black Bean Tapenade

Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs with Black Bean Tapenade
Dan Goldberg
Provided by:
total prep
Recipe courtesy of Girl in the Kitchen by Stephanie Izard/Chronicle Books, 2011.

Chicken thighs have recently become quite popular on restaurant menus as people have (finally!) come to realize that it’s the dark meat that holds all of the delicious flavor. Like so many people, I used to avoid dark meat, often buying boneless, skinless breasts to be a bit more health conscious. But the truth is, there are only two more grams of fat in six ounces of chicken thigh than there are in chicken breast. And for the extra flavor you get, that’s two grams of fat well spent. So while I could be perfectly happy with these braised chicken thighs on their own (or even just nibbling the crispy skin), the fun part about this recipe is the olive and fermented black bean tapenade. I had a container of these beans sitting in my house for over a year, just getting pushed around in the cupboard from time to time when I was searching for ingredients. We used to make a sauce with the salty fermented soybeans (a Chinese product) back during my days at Spring, but I think I subconsciously blocked it out because it came with a potato-wrapped salmon dish that was quite the pain in the ass to prep and cook properly. But back to those beans in my pantry: They sat there until a trip to Yosemite a couple years back, when I saw another chef do a demo in which he talked up fermented black beans, explaining how they can add the same earthy, pungent kick to American dishes that they do for Chinese classics. Inspired, I went back home and made this tapenade from them. Keep in mind that on their own, they’re extremely intense, so you might not want to pop them in your mouth to snack on while cooking, or else your palate will be shot for a few hours at least.


  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 4 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the back of a knife
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 pounds chicken thighs with skin (about 8), bone in
  • 1/2 cup niçoise olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fermented black beans
  • 1 tablespoon chiffonade of fresh mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon sambal
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon blended vegetable oil (half vegetable, half olive oil)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon blended vegetable oil (half vegetable, half olive oil)


  • To make the marinated chicken: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 6 cups water, the salt, sugar, orange slices, thyme, onion, garlic, peppercorns, coriander, and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the marinade to a container with a lid that’s large enough to fit all of the chicken and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled. Add the chicken, cover, and marinate overnight.
  • To make the tapenade: In a small bowl, mix together the olives, oil, lemon juice, beans, mint, sambal, and honey. Set aside.
  • To make the sauce: Pull the chicken out of the marinade and discard the marinade. Place the chicken on a baking sheet lined with a kitchen towel or paper towels, skin-side down, to let it dry a bit. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the oil, then half of the thighs, skin-side down. (Be careful, as chicken may splatter a bit.) Turn the heat down to medium and let the thighs brown for 4 to 5 minutes. Turn them over and let them brown a couple of minutes more. Transfer the chicken, skin-side up, to a 4-inch-deep baking dish or potlarge enough to fit all the thighs in one layer (4 by 8 inch works well). Repeat with another 1/2 tablespoon oil and the remaining thighs.
  • To make the sauce: Once all of the thighs are browned and are in the baking dish, discard all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from the sauté pan. Add the onions and garlic and brown for 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer them into the baking dish with the thighs.
  • Bring the broth to a boil in a separate saucepan.
  • Preheat the oven to 275 deg. Return the sauté pan to the heat and add the wine. Simmer to reduce by half, using a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits that are left from cooking the chicken. Add it all to the baking dish along with the hot broth. Cover the baking dish with a lid or foil and place it in the oven to braise until very tender, about 2 hours. Remove it from the oven, uncover, and let the chicken cool in the liquid for 30 minutes to finish up cooking.
  • Carefully remove the thighs and transfer them to a rack, skin-side still up. Strain the liquid from the dish through a fine-mesh sieve into a saucepan. Let it sit long enough for the fat to separate, about 10 minutes, then use a ladle to skim off most of the fat. Place the pan on high heat and simmer the sauce to reduce until it coats the back of a spoon. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the butter.
  • Up to 3 days ahead: Make the Black Bean Tapenade. Cover and refrigerate. Day before: Make the marinade and marinate the chicken. Cook time: Brown the chicken, make the pan sauce, and braise the chicken in the oven. While the final sauce is reducing, crisp the chicken, rewarm in the oven, and bring the tapenade to room temperature.