Dinner Party Chicken
Braised chicken thighs for a dinner party is always a win in my book. It’s a dish you can make entirely ahead of time, meets many of the dietary restrictions that are part and parcel for having people over, and is always a crowd pleaser. This is why my recipe for chicken braised with whole citrus and meaty olives has come to be known as Dinner Party Chicken.
How to Make Dinner Party Chicken
First off, is to season bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. If you have the benefit of extra time, do this up to two days ahead and leave the chicken uncovered in the fridge. That will make the chicken extra flavorful and the skin extra crispy. Then, brown the chicken in olive oil to sear in all that goodness. After that, everything else goes into the pan and into the oven, where liquid and heat do their magic.
Make-Ahead Tips and Tricks
When having people over, I like to get the heavy lifting out of the way before guests arrive. This recipe is terrific for make-ahead cooking. Here are three options:
- Do all of the prep up to two days ahead, including chopping vegetables, slicing citrus, pitting olives, and seasoning chicken.
- Make the recipe the same day you plan to serve it, finishing up before you put on your party pants. Get it into the oven about the same time guests arrive.
- Make the recipe a day ahead (it’s arguably even better this way). Once cooked, store it covered in the fridge until the dinner party hour approaches. Reheat in a 350 degree oven until the chicken is warmed through.
A Few Tasty Swaps and Substitutions
Like so many braised chicken dishes, this one is very adaptable depending on your mood and what you have on hand. Here are a few ideas:
- Add a pinch of saffron and 1 chopped tomato when you add the garlic and citrus to give it a bit of Spanish flair
- Leave out the olives if you’re not a fan and use several tablespoons of chopped capers instead.
- Stir a few handfuls chopped kale, chard, or spinach to the pan about 10 minutes into braising.
- Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme to the braising liquid.
- Use sliced limes, Meyer lemons, blood oranges, or other citrus fruits in lieu of oranges and conventional lemons.
What to Serve with Dinner Party Chicken?
You can go in lots of directions as far as side dishes and accompaniments.
- The chicken is tasty spooned with all those lovely juices over grains or pasta, such as farro, bulgur, couscous, or egg noodles. You could also opt for boiled or roast potatoes (such as the ones in this recipe).
- Dark leafy greens make a perfect vegetable accompaniment, such as this simple kale.
- A bright salad is always welcome, including Super Seed Salad, Arugula Salad, and Snap Pea Salad
- This easy Olive Oil Cake makes an ideal dessert to follow on the heels of the main course.
If you Like Dinner Party Chicken, check out these other dinner party favorites
Braised Chicken Thighs with Citrus and Olives
A terrific dish for a dinner party, since you can make it entirely ahead of time. Feel free to vary the type of whole citrus slices you use, such as blood oranges, limes, and Meyer lemons. A nice pinch of saffron along with 1 chopped tomato is a tasty variation that gives the dish a distinctive Spanish flair.
- 2 ¼ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 large navel or cara cara orange, cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds (including peel)
- 1 large lemon, cut into ¼-ich-thick rounds (including peel)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ⅔ cup pitted briny green or kalamata olives
- ½ cup dry white wine
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Season the chicken with 1 ½ teaspoons salt and a generous shower of freshly ground black pepper. Do this up to two days ahead, if you have the time, and store uncovered in the fridge.
Heat the olive oil over medium-high in a heavy skillet (ideally large enough to hold all the chicken thighs in one layer). Brown the chicken on both sides until deeply golden, about 7 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Drop the heat to medium and add the onions. Sauté until tender and translucent, 8 minutes. Add the garlic, orange and lemon slices, lemon juice, olives, wine, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Stir. Nestle the chicken thighs into the pan, adding any juices that have collected on the plate. Cover tightly with aluminum foil or a lid.
Put in the oven and cook until the chicken is tender enough to pull away from the bone with ease, about 30 minutes. The chicken can rest, covered in the pan, for a good 20 minutes before serving.
Photo credit: Hannah Zimmerman of Bite Sized Studio