Crispy Chicken Thighs Paired w/ an Earthy Black Bean Tapenade

Stephanie Izard has been piling up accolades while keeping a busy schedule. She’s the only woman to win Bravo’s Top Chef reality-TV cooking show. Next, in July 2010, Izard opened her own Chicago restaurant, the acclaimed Girl & the Goat. More recently, Izard was profiled as one of 15 breakthrough stars in Oprah Winfrey’s O magazine. And, to top it off, she’s just published her own cookbook, Girl in the Kitchen (Chronicle Books, 2011).

It’s filled with enticing recipes, including the crispy braised chicken thighs featured here. They’re paired with a tapenade made from olives, fermented black beans, and extra virgin olive oil. (Click here to see the recipe.)

“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,” she writes.

Salty fermented soybeans are a Chinese product. Izard notes they can provide and “earthy pungent kick to American dishes.”

In this dish, the tapenade can be made up to three days in advance. The chicken, meanwhile, is marinated overnight with sliced orange, onion, garlic, toasted coriander seeds and red pepper flakes, along with salt and sugar. ç The next day the thighs are browned in a pan and then braised in the oven. When served, they’re topped with a savory pan sauce and the tapenade.

Izard, by the way, is a big fan of chicken thighs, noting “it’s the dark meat that holds all of the delicious flavor.” She used to avoid dark meat, instead buying boneless, skinless chicken 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 the same amount of chicken breast. And for the extra flavor you get, that’s two grams of fat well spent.”

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch