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Yogurt Is Your New Favorite Braising “Liquid” in This Dutch Oven Recipe With Chicken
Braising chicken – or any other meat – takes so long.
It’s typically not a very good cooking method for busy weeknights. But, braised chicken leg quarters sure are delicious.
If you’re like me, you don’t always have time for long, low and slow braising recipes for chicken. After a busy day of work, exercise, and all the other things going on, the last thing you want to do is stare at a Dutch oven for 2 hours while braising chicken thighs or legs.
But, with the right steps, braised chicken recipes can totally be weeknight friendly. For starters, give the chicken a nice long sear to start the cooking process. And add filling ingredients like beans or grains to make your braise a full one-pot meal.
This braised chicken leg quarters recipe checks off both boxes. You’ll sear the chicken to get the skin nice and crispy. And you’ll add chickpeas to the pot you’ll have a full meal with one serving.
So, add braising chicken to your weeknight approved cooking methods.
How to Braise Chicken
Braising can be super convenient under the right circumstances. Once you get the braise going, you can set it and forget it. On the other hand, if you are short on time, then braising can be troublesome because the cooking is low and slow.
In any case, here’s how you do it:
- Season chicken all over with salt.
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat.
- Place chicken skin side down once oil is shimmering. Cook, undisturbed, until skin is browned and crispy, 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan.
- Next you’ll build the braise. Reduce heat to medium-low and add crushed garlic, almonds, and raisins to the pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the garlic has browned.
- Add chickpeas and cook another 2 minutes to warm through.
- Add spiced yogurt, chicken legs, and water.
- Increase heat to medium and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer uncovered until chicken is tender and falling from the bone, about 30 minutes. Serve.
Braised Chicken Leg Quarters Tips
Go to Brown Town
Before you cook the chicken low and slow in liquid, you need to cook it hot and fast in the oiled pot or pan you’re using (aka sear). Sear the legs for 10-15 minutes skin side down until the skin is browned and crispy. I mean, is there any better chicken skin than crispy chicken skin?
‘Tis the Season
Say goodbye to summer and hello to fall with braising. Fall and Winter are perfect for warm, hearty, and homey braises. Pour a braise over some potatoes or pasta and you have a super comforting meal. I feel like you should eat it next to a crackling fire.
After cooking meat, veggies, spices, and other tasty ingredients, you’ll have a flavor packed braising liquid. You should treat that like gold. If you’d like a thicker sauce after the meat is done cooking, remove the meat, turn the heat up and reduce until you reach your desired consistency.
Braising Chicken Leg Quarters FAQs
Won’t the Yogurt Curdle?
So, yes, the yogurt will most likely curdle on you. But, this won’t affect the taste. Unless you have a professional French chef that yells at you in the kitchen Gordan Ramsay style if your technique isn’t perfect, I think you’ll be happy with the results.
If you want a smoother sauce, there are a few options.
First, you could choose to strain the solids and serve them on a separate plate of fresh yogurt.
Or use 1 cup of chicken stock instead of yogurt in the initial braise. Then after 15 minutes or so, add in the yogurt.
What Type of Yogurt Should I Use?
Go for whole milk plain (unsweetened) yogurt here. If possible, opt for yogurt produced from humanely raised animals that aren’t treated with hormones.
Check the ingredients to make sure there aren’t a bunch of preservatives or added sugar. It should just be milk, pectin, Vitamin D3 (maybe), and a bunch of probiotic strains likely ending in “lus” that you won’t be able to pronounce.
The ingredients list on the yogurt I have in my refrigerator is short and sweet:
Organic whole milk, Vitamin D3, Pectin, and a bunch of healthy probiotic cultures.
What If I Don’t Have a Dutch Oven?
I love my Dutch oven. It’s perfect for braises like this one, soups, and even breads. As the weather gets colder, my Dutch oven gets used more and more. This 6-quart Lodge enameled one is one of my kitchen workhorses and I highly recommend it.
If you don’t want to purchase a Dutch oven, you can make this in another large pan, pot, or skillet. The heavier the skillet the better. They better maintain their heat so the braise will cook evenly throughout cooking.
This is why cast iron works great. Even when you turn the heat to low, you’ll have a steady temperature throughout the pot. Compared to a pot with thin metal sides which loses heat quickly.
How Long Will This Braised Chicken Keep?
The great thing about braises is that they taste even better after a day or so once the flavors have time to meld. So, feel free to make this braised chicken a day or 2 ahead.
It will last 3 to 4 days covered in the refrigerator. These leakproof containers rule for leftovers. Especially if there is liquid involved. Say it with me: No more leaky lunches.
Can I Use Other Cuts of Chicken?
You can use different cuts of chicken for this recipe.
In fact, I used the legs and wings from a whole chicken that I cut up (check out this post and video on how to cut up a whole chicken). And it worked out great.
If you want to use breasts, I suggest using breasts only. For boneless breasts, decrease searing time to 7-10 minutes. Then braise for about 20 minutes.
I Don’t Like Spicy Foods. Is This Spicy?
You have the option to add crushed red pepper flakes to this dish. This will make it about a 2 on a 1-5 spiciness scaled depending on the quality of your pepper. Leave out, add more pepper, or add less pepper to adjust the spice level to your liking.
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Braised Chicken Leg Quarters in Yogurt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 chicken leg quarters (thigh and drumstick)
- 1 cup whole milk plain yogurt
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed
- 3 tbsp almonds, roughly chopped or slivered
- 3 tbsp raisins
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
- 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained (or 1.5 cups cooked dried)
- kosher salt
- Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven (or other large heavy bottom pan) over medium. Pat chicken dry and season all over with kosher salt. When oil is shimmering, place chicken in pot, skin side down. Cook until browned and crispy 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside skin side up.
- While chicken is searing, prepare yogurt and other ingredients. Mix vinegar, cumin, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and crushed red pepper flakes (if using) with yogurt. Chop almonds and crush garlic cloves.
- When chicken is done searing, reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic to pot. Cook 2 minutes. Add almonds, raisins, and chickpeas. Cook another 2-3 minutes until garlic is golden browned.
- Add spiced yogurt and about 1/2 cup of water. Stir to combine. Nestle chicken legs into braise. Increase heat to medium and bring braise to a simmer, then reduce heat to low.
- Simmer uncovered until chicken is tender and braise has slightly thickened, 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your chicken. Taste braising liquid and add more salt if necessary. Serve.
Ready to Get Your Braise On?
Weeknight braises? They’re real. And this yogurt braised chicken leg recipe is proof that it can be done.
Low and (sorta) slow to your next one-pot chicken dinner.