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Dutch Oven Chicken with Thai Chilies and Garlic

This chicken dish is brilliantly spicy, but not at all overpowering. The taste complexity seems impossible from just 5 ingredients.  And it’s easy to make.

The ingredients

The results

The secret here is to de-seed the Thai chilies before you chop them.  With seeds left in, the quantity of chilies used would be unbearably hot.  The red flesh of the Thai chili has a less forceful and more complex heat that works well with garlic and black pepper.  The Dominican Republic has become a major exporter of these (and other) fresh chilies, and of many exotic Asian vegetables.

  • 2 pounds (1 kg) chicken thighs, peppered and lightly salted.  (bone in, skin on preferred)
  • 12 fresh Thai chilies, de-seeded and roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup (200 ml) dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup (50 ml) olive oil
  • 1 cup (200 ml) vegetable stock
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  1. In a wide cast iron dutch oven, heat 1/4 cup olive oil (medium flame) and place the chicken in one layer, skin side up.
  2. Let the chicken cook in this position until brown, about 8 minutes over a medium flame.
  3. Turn the chicken, and brown the skin side, about 8 minutes.  Take care not to scorch the chicken (or burn the oil) on a too-high flame.  Also, do not crowd the pan.  If necessary, brown the chicken in batches.
  4. When all the chicken has been browned,  remove it from the pan, set aside, and turn off the heat completely.
  5. Immediately add the chilies and garlic to the hot oil  in the pan.  The cast iron will be hot enough to nicely cook the garlic and chili in about 4 minutes without burning.  Stir occasionally.
  6. After 4-5 minutes, turn the flame back on, at medium-high, and deglaze the pan with a cup of white wine.  Boil for 2-3 minutes so the alcohol can evaporate off.  Some may enjoy adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice here to brighten the flavors a bit.
  7. Put all the chicken in the pan, skin side up, and pour in the vegetable stock.  Cook on medium-high heat for 12 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half.
  8. Serve in a wide bowl, with generous spoonfuls of the sauce.