While during winter you might be craving mulled wine or hot cider over a cold brew, that doesn’t mean beer doesn’t have its place on the dinner table. In our hearty Beer-Braised Chicken with Queso Fresco over Rice recipe, a lager is used as a prime braising liquid. If you’re unfamiliar with the technique, braising involves searing an ingredient, then cooking it in liquid over low heat to finish. Here, this method renders the chicken tender and moist.
Chipotle pepper is spicy, so use only as much as desired depending on your spice preference.
Beer is optional! Stock makes an equally delicious braising liquid.
½ cup white rice
8 ounces chicken stock, divided
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup lager-style beer
1 yellow onion ⅛ ounce oregano
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
12 ounces chicken thighs
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1 can diced tomatoes
1 ounce crumbled queso fresco
1. Cook Rice
In a small pot over high heat, combine rice, ½ cup chicken stock, ½ cup water, and a pinch salt. Bring to a boil, then stir once, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 12 minutes. Remove pot from heat and allow to stand, still covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork, and set aside.
3. Sear Chicken
Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a large high-sided pan over medium-high heat. Season chicken all over with spice mix and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. When oil is shimmering, add chicken and sear until browned on outside, 1–2 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside.
4. Make Braising Liquid
Add onion and oregano to pan from chicken over medium heat and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add apple cider vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and cook until reduced by ½, about 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, as much chopped chipotle pepper as desired, ½ of diced tomatoes and juices, and ½ cup beer. Alternatively, use remaining chicken stock in place of beer (see Recipe Tip). Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.
5. Braise Chicken
Return chicken to pan with braising liquid, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Braise until cooked through and no longer pink, 6–8 minutes, then remove from pan and set aside. Increase heat to medium high and simmer until liquid is reduced by ½, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, using 2 forks or tongs, shred chicken into bitesize pieces.
6. Plate Beer-Braised Chicken
Return shredded chicken to pan with braising liquid over medium heat and cook, stirring, until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve chicken over rice and spoon over braising liquid. Garnish with queso fresco and enjoy. Use remaining chipotle pepper and diced tomatoes in other recipes as desired.