Confession: I don’t like Stout beer. To drink, that is. That foamy, thick rolling brew reminds me of a lava lamp when you’re pouring it into a glass. It’s fun to watch, but I can’t drink it. I’m pretty sure my aversion to stout puts me in the minority but my one saving grace is that I love to cook with the stuff!
That same malty taste that I refuse to sip, is positively transformative as a sauce. It melds beautifully with beef or lamb and in this rendition, I’ve paired a bottle of Guinness with some meaty chicken thighs. And bacon. Are you listening now?
There’s a few ingredients you might not be expecting, but trust me, they work in this dish. First is the pear. I know — pear??? I dice a ripe bosc pear very finely and add it to the braise. It has a light sweetness that breaks up the heaviness of the stout — and because it’s such a small dice, it practically dissolves in the sauce. Caraway seeds add another layer of flavor.
And then there’s the stout. Just one bottle. It foams up and quickly subsides into a simmer that takes it from bottle sipping brew to glorious gravy. I added a little broth to balance out the flavors so that the stout isn’t too dominant.
Thicken the sauce with a slurry of arrowroot (or cornstarch) and water. Simmer for a few minutes and add the frozen vegetables at the end so they keep their firm texture (no mushy vegetables – ever – that’s my husband’s motto).
That’s it. A sprinkle of parsley and bacon and dinner is served! We like this over cooked egg noodles, but it would be equally delicious with mashed potatoes or cauliflower if you’re watching carbs. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Irish Stout Braised Chicken Thighs
A quick, simple braise with carrots, onions, peas and a hearty stout gravy that's ready in about an hour. Perfect for a weeknight or an easy St. Patty's celebration!
- 4-6 chicken thighs bone in, skin on (depending on how many people you’re feeding)
- 2 onions medium, thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 5 slices bacon thick cut , chopped
- 2 carrots medium , peeled and sliced
- 1 bosc pear ripe, peeled and finely diced
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 1 12-oz. bottle stout beer (I used Guinness)
- 1 cup chicken stock low-sodium
- 1 cup peas frozen
- 1 cup pearl onions frozen
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot + 1 tablespoon water, mixed into a slurry
- 2 tablespoons parsley , chopped
- 1 10 ounce package egg noodles cooked
Heat a heavy stock pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. When the pot is hot, add the bacon and stir, cooking until the bacon has rendered it’s fat and is crispy. Transfer the bacon to a dish lined with paper towels and set aside.
Transfer all but one tablespoon of bacon grease to a small bowl.
Add the onions and carrots to the pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and saute, stirring occasionally until the onions have softened. Transfer the onions to a small bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon bacon grease back into the pot. Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel and add them, skin side down into the pot. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until chicken skin begins to turn crispy and golden. Use tongs to flip the chicken over and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the dish with the onions.
Discard the excess fat from the chicken and add the carrots and onions back into the pot. Add the diced pears, caraway seed, and stout beer. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium. Cook for five minutes at a vigorous simmer. Add the chicken broth to the pot. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a medium low. Simmer the chicken and vegetables for 20 minutes. Stir in the pearl onions and peas to thaw them. Add the arrowroot slurry and stir until the sauce has thickened slightly. Sprinkle the crisped bacon and parsley over the chicken and serve with egg noodles.
This makes enough sauce for six or even eight chicken thighs -- so if your pot is big enough to handle it and you've got a crowd -- just use more chicken.
More Savory Braises: