Braised chicken

Braised chicken with olives. (Photo by John Houser III, for The Baltimore Sun / November 2, 2012)

Chicken is everywhere, from road-side shacks to four-star restaurants. The problem with chicken these days is that it has been bred more for quantity than quality. Luckily in the past few years, local farmers have been producing chickens that have amazing flavor and texture (and that are raised in much better conditions than typical supermarket birds). At the farmers markets around the area, chicken is one of the easier products to find now that most vegetables are out of season.

This recipe is perfect for the cold weather. Braising produces rich and hearty results every time as long as you are willing to do the work up front. Browning the meat before braising it is the hard part; the vegetables do the rest. The picholine olives are fantastic but might be hard to find (they are available at Whole Foods). You can substitute with any bright green and briny olive you can find (but try to stay away from canned kind).

Braised chicken with olives

Makes: 8 servings

8 chicken thighs or 1 chicken cut into 8 pieces (I get my chicken from Albright Farms)

2 medium onions, large dice

2 ribs celery chopped into 1/4-inch wide pieces

2 large carrots chopped into 1/4-inch inch wide pieces

1 medium eggplant, medium dice

8 cloves garlic, thickly sliced

4 bay leaves

5 ounces picholine olives, pitted and roughly chopped

1 cup prunes, chopped

4 cups (1 quart) chicken stock

3 cups white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup tomato paste

4 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped and minced

2 sprigs sage, leaves stripped and minced