Milk may not seem a likely braising liquid, but it works beautifully, tenderizing the meat and combining with the chicken juices and spices to create the sauce. You can brown the meat in advance, assemble the braise and refrigerate it, then pop it into the oven just before you want to eat; in under an hour you’ll have a comforting main course that’s perfect for a snowy evening.
This is one of Faith’s favorite go-to soup-as-a-meal recipes. She prefers red lentils, simply because she finds them beautiful, but you could use brown lentils if that’s what you have or what you like. As a last step, she uses an immersion blender to thicken the soup, but you don’t have to if you like the texture of the plump cooked lentils as they are.
The same way I save the chicken carcass after a chicken dinner to make stock, I save lobster shells all summer long and turn them into broth. You can do this with shrimp shells, too. What do the shells add to the broth? A beautiful brininess. It’s the essence of the sea.
Since the sauce is hearty and chunky, it’s perfect to make in the slow cooker. While any part of the chicken works great, Gina Homolka prefers to use skinless chicken thighs that are still on the bone. The chicken comes out so juicy and tender, and the bones add flavor to the sauce.
A homemade fish stock can make the difference between a good chowder and a great chowder. It’s worth asking your fish monger to save leftover fish bones for this.