Meals for Under $15 With Food Network Star Alexandra Guarnaschelli

Celebrity chef Alexandra GuamaschelliWith colder weather on the way, it's time to cook up some heartier fare. Alexandra Guarnaschelli (right), executive chef of Manhattan's Butter and star of Food Network's Alex's Day Off, shares a delicious recipe of chicken and tomatoes that hits the spot on a chilly day.

Braised chicken thighs with tomatoes
Serves 4-5
3 tablespoons canola oil
12 pieces chicken thighs and legs
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
2 large white onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and "pressed"
1/2 large "knob" ginger, peeled and grated
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon chili flakes
2 bay leaves
1 14-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes
1 cup water

1. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Arrange the chicken in a tray in a single layer and season with salt. Turn the pieces on their other side and season again. When the oil begins to smoke lightly, carefully add the chicken to the oil. Do not overcrowd the pan. Resist the temptation to move or turn the pieces. Allow them to brown on their first side, 3-5 minutes. Use metal tongs to turn the chicken pieces onto their other side and brown for another 3-5 minutes. Transfer the chicken pieces to a tray and set aside.

2. Using the same skillet you used to cook the chicken, add the last tablespoon of oil and place over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke lightly, add the cumin and stir rapidly to give them a quick roast, 10-15 seconds. Add the onions. Season with salt and cook, stirring frequently, until they turn a light brown, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the ginger and garlic. Add the cinnamon stick, chili flakes and bay leaves. Add the tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes to allow all the flavors to come together. Add 1 cup of water and arrange the chicken pieces inside. Turn the heat down to low and continue cooking until the pieces are cooked through, 30-45 minutes. Note: if the sauce becomes overly thick or begins to stick to the bottom of the skillet, feel free to add a little more water.

3. When the chicken is cooked through, remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Taste for seasoning. Serve with a side such as braised cabbage.
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