By Freya Bellin
I’ve never thought to use oats in a savory dish, so this recipe immediately caught my eye. The headnote mentions that you can substitute bulgur, which maybe sounds like a more suitable dinner grain, but is actually quite similar to steel-cut oats. I opted for the oats and was pleasantly surprised by how well they fit in as a savory ingredient, with their nutty flavor and chewy texture. It makes a nice base for the sweet, vinegary sauce.
This one-pot dish comes together pretty quickly once you get it on the stove; separating and chopping the chard was probably the most time-consuming piece of the whole process, although I was happy to make use of both the stems and leaves. Browning the chicken thighs really deepens the flavor of the dish, which tastes best when eaten hot right away. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
Braised Chard and Chicken with Steel-Cut Oats
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
Hearty stews are usually tricky to pull off on weeknights, when you want something on the table quickly. But here’s a delicious braised grain dish with that odd acidic sweetness of chard (substitute other greens if you prefer) and the crisp juiciness of chicken thighs. Bulgur also works well.
About 11⁄2 pounds chard
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 bone-in chicken thighs
Salt and black pepper
1 red onion, halved and sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
3⁄4 cup steel-cut oats
1⁄2 cup white wine or water
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock or water, or more as needed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1. Cut the stems out of the chard leaves. Cut the leaves into wide ribbons and slice the stems; keep the leaves and stems separate.
2. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the chicken thighs, skin side down, and sprinkle with salt and pepper; cook, rotating and turning as necessary, until browned on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the chicken. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Add the chard stems and oats along with another sprinkling of salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until the oats are glossy and coated with oil, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine, stir, and let the liquid bubble away. Add the 2 cups stock all at once and return the chicken thighs to the skillet (skin side up). Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook. Check to see if the oats are tender after 15 minutes; if they’re not quite done, cook for another 5 minutes, then test again. If the oats become dry, add a little more stock or water.
4. When the oats are almost done, add the chard leaves and the vinegar. Replace the lid, remove the skillet from the heat, and let rest for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve.