Braised Chicken with Sour Cherries
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A delicious braised chicken recipe with a Middle Eastern flair that is impressively flavorful, feeding a crowd without much fuss on your part, and best when eaten a day or two later so make ahead is a must (don't you love that?). And if lucky, there will be leftovers for lunch.
Recipe type: Main
Serves: serves 6-8
  • 12 organic chicken thighs
  • 6 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • ¼ cup fresh garlic, minced, about three handfuls of cloves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 large 56-ounce jar sour cherries in syrup (I use Zergut brand)
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 4 teaspoons water
  • ¼ cup kosher salt (see note below on why)
  • 2-3 tablespoons crushed black pepper, to taste
  • fresh cilantro or parsley, roughly chopped
  1. Season the chicken thighs with kosher salt and pepper, about a 3-finger pinch on each side of salt (to resemble a light dusting of snow) and a 2-finger pinch of black pepper on each side. When all have been seasoned set aside while preparing other ingredients. Note: it is best not to cook chicken right out of the refrigerator, rather sitting at room temperature 20 minutes, since it is will reduce the pan’s temperature and sear the chicken unevenly.
  2. Combine tapioca starch and water in a small and stir to dissolve completely, set aside.
  3. When all your ingredients have been prepared, set a skillet pan on medium high heat. When the pan has heated, add avocado oil. When the oil appears hot (it should slide around easily and look thin), carefully add chicken thighs, skin-side down, and cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Chicken will cook through later while simmering in the sauce. For best braise, spread out the chicken to prevent crowding; I do this in two batches. No need to rest braised chicken on paper towels, add the juice on the bottom of your resting plate or bowl back into the skillet later.
  4. When all pieces have been seared to a golden brown, crisp exterior, remove from skillet. Add a tablespoon or two of oil if needed, then add diced onions, minced garlic, minced rosemary, about two teaspoons of kosher salt and stir to combine well.
  5. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes, until soft and aromatic. Then add the whole jar of sour cherries (slowly!), when it begins to boil throughout (not just along the edges) add the apple cider vinegar, reduce to medium heat and cook another 5 minutes, uncovered. Add tapioca starch liquid and stir to combine well. Add chicken thighs back in, submerging as much of the chicken as possible. As it comes back to a boil, cook another 45 minutes until the liquid has reduced by half and the chicken is very tender. If more of a glaze is desired: omit tapioca starch and water mixture and reduce another 45-60 minutes until sauce has reduced two-thirds (it will reduce further as it absorbs into the meat when cooling so don’t reduce further). Delicious over any vegetables. We love steamed cauliflower rice or mash, roasted spaghetti squash, or celery root and cauliflower mash.
  6. Notes: Like with most braised dishes, this dish tastes even better when served the next day. It is also freezer friendly, simply freeze chicken in its’ juice for up to two months when sealed in a freezer-safe container.
  7. Notes on salt:
  8. The recipe does call for a lot of salt in the recipe but it does make plenty and not even slightly salty, here’s why: kosher salt contains less salt crystals in volume and weighs the least compared to other salts, whereas table salt is highest given the tiny compressed granules. Both are chemically the same, the difference is the volume in that pinch you pick up to season your meat or anything else. If you were to use table salt for this recipe (or any of my recipes) the result would be saltier, maybe too salty to eat. I strongly suggest Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt; not only is it the easiest salt to control when seasoning food, it has coarse granules that season evenly and a clean (non-briny) taste. Coarse sea salt has a similar flaky crystal and lighter volume than table salt, but has more of the ocean flavor to it - not very appetizing, I think. Because salting meats (or anything other than baking) with a measured spoon is awkward, a good guideline is the finger pinch. The general rule: a two-finger pinch is between an ⅛-1/4 of a teaspoon; a three-finger pinch is about a scant or heaping ½ teaspoon measure. This also depends on how big your hands are, of course.
  9. Note on garlic:
  10. If your garlic is pungent in smell go with half the amount of garlic, unless you like a stronger garlic flavor. Honestly, given this is a large dish to feed at least six, a few garlic cloves won’t enhance the sauce. My garlic is not strong allowing me to use more for more flavor without making the dish taste too garlicky. Despite the large amount used here, rest assured, a strong garlic flavor does not come through and is actually more sweet than pungent.
  11. Note on jarred sour cherries:
  12. Cost Plus World Market store carries the Zergut brand (imported from Bulgaria) as do Middle Eastern markets and some ethnic sections of supermarkets. If it is unavailable near you (don’t bother to order from Amazon, it is insanely expensive), sub using frozen cherries (4 cups worth) and 3½ cups of tart cherry juice.
Recipe by From Jessica's Kitchen at