Boozy Chicken: A White Wine Braised Bird

After New Year’s Day’s lunch, I had more than half a bottle of that cheap $5 kind of white wine leftover, along with a bunch of boneless, skinless chicken tenders yet to be cooked, and I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone. That was all this was supposed to be, a recipe to use things up, to get rid of what was expiring, but, like some of my favorite friendships or best memories, little did I know what it would become.

A red cooking pot on a green cloth on top of a table.

Here is how it started: Pulling out my Dutch oven, I laid eight seasoned chicken tenders inside, covering them with a very basic sauce of white wine and vegetable oil; checked them after 45 minutes to stir things around; and, in just over an hour of total baking time, pulled the pan out, the intense and satisfying smell of what I would eventually dub boozy chicken radiating through the kitchen, rich and warm and, pun intended, intoxicating.

I’m not a drinker so, as a rule, the scent of alcohol isn’t likely to weaken knees, but people, this was something else.

A top view of a bowl of chicken and greens.

It was Julia Child who said a good roast chicken is the kind that tastes nice and “chickeny” — and if you’ve ever tasted a well-roasted, seasoned, juicy bird, the kind that’s been turned 45 degrees every 15 minutes for several hours to simulate a rotisserie and, when it emerges from the oven, that’s golden on the outside, with crispy skin giving way to tender, flavorful meat inside, you know exactly what she means.

A chicken dish in a small bowl with halved grapefruit at the back.

I’d have spent the rest of my life assuming all that labor was the only way to get good roast chicken, the kind of chicken that becomes a base for salads and sandwiches and pasta dishes and anything else that will showcase its Julia-esque chickeny flavor, and I’d have been wrong.

A few bites in, it was all I could do to keep myself from eating piece after tender piece with my fingers, licking the buttery seasonings and smacking my lips together and still, after I ate a few of the tenders plain, things got even better.

First, there was the salad:

I tend to find a schtick and play it over and over again, at least when it’s one I like, and so this salad was nothing more than the one we had for New Year’s lunch, just with the addition of shredded, roasted boozy chicken throughout.

A white bowl filled with carrot and cucumber slices.

I threw a half a lemon in my plastic container Monday and squeezed fresh juices all over the spinach and toasted almonds before eating the salad at lunchtime, and while I looked out at the snow around me, the citrus tasted like summer and sunshine and a million miles from here.

A day or two later: lettuce wraps.

I whipped up a homemade peanut sauce, using organic peanut butter and hoping to mimic a fantastic Thai sauce I’d had at Cheesecake Factory over the holidays. Did you know making peanut sauce is almost as easy as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

It’s true. Throw ingredients in food processor; blend; heat over the stove; done.

A sauce in a bowl with a spoon and a few lettuce leaves scattered around it.

In deciding what to put on the wraps, I just pulled out all the little leftovers and nubs hiding in the back of the fridge: zucchini, carrots, onions, chunks of lettuce. Combined with the peanut sauce and the shredded chicken, good heavens!

I was reduced to happy sighs, closed eyes and a nodding head. Yes. Yes, this is exactly how dinner should taste.

A delicious lettuce wrap made with chicken, carrots, cucumbers, and more.

So now here we are, a week later, and the chicken is all gone, but can I tell you something? It will be back soon.

Very soon indeed. Because in this life where it seems people are always saying they’re disappointed or having their expectations unmet, when you find something that does just the opposite, well, that’s something you hold onto, whether it’s a person or a hobby or a kind of chicken dinner.

And I will.

Boozy Chicken
Adapted from

8 boneless, skinless chicken tenders
2 teaspoon garlic powder or minced garlic
some poultry seasoning
a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper
1 cup white wine
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Season chicken tenders with garlic, poultry seasoning and salt/pepper, and lay them in the dutch oven or a 9 X 13 pan.

In a small bowl, mix wine and oil, and pour this mixture all over the chicken. Cover pot or pan, and put in oven for 45 minutes.

Check on the chicken: turn over pieces, stir around the juices, spooning pan sauce over chicken. Return to oven for another 20 minutes, until juices run clear.

Roast Chicken Salad
The salad recipe is here. For this version, just add chopped roasted chicken throughout, along with a big chunk of lemon for squeezing.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps
*For tips on assembly, go here.
*For a killer Thai peanut sauce, see below.

Thai Peanut Sauce

4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper (I chopped up some giardiniera I had on hand)
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/3 cup peanut butter (I used all-natural organic)
1 cup of water

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix for about a minute. Pour mixture into sauce pan and cook down until it’s the consistency you want (about 10 minutes).

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About Shanna Mallon

Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn,, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens,, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World,, Babble,, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.

21 thoughts on “Boozy Chicken: A White Wine Braised Bird

  1. ok, so i’ve had this chicken sitting in my freezer forever because i’m too scared to roast it (silly, i know), but i’ve so been wanting some sort of chicken that i make on a sunday night and use up the whole week. i might have to try this sometime. or, roast that chicken already. or both! btw, this reminds me of a recipe i just made last night that is perfect for leftover chicken and i think you’d really like. i’ll email you later today with the details!

  2. Several summers ago I had almost an entire bottle of leftover wine that I wasn’t going to drink and I poured it over a whole cut-up chicken then stuck it in the fridge. After a turn on the grill it was the most delectable and delicious tasting meat I’ve had. I wrote a rather hilarious ode to ‘Drunken Chicken’ and laughed at the search hits that came to my blog afterwards.

    I can almost taste your version.

  3. I really enjoy recipes “to just use things up”, in which you can just throw together whatever you have on hand… makes me think of Ribollita… mmm. Sorry it’s on my mind.

  4. I’ve had a chicken-in-lettuce-wraps recipe sitting in my must-make pile for ages. But I’ve been too uncertain to try it. … Now I’m tossing it and heading for the fridge to try your version. (After I get my chicken good and soused, that is.) 🙂 Thanks!

  5. I love this!!! Both of these recipes are so enticingly simple and adaptable. I can’t wait until I get another chicken in my meat CSA so I can try this!

  6. Caitlin, LOL about the wine and thank you about the textures! I wish I were more disciplined about learning that sort of stuff, but P365 is going to help (well, it is already!).

    Jacqui, Thanks so much for sending that over – I am particularly interested to try your poaching technique sometime soon because that’s something I’ve never done. And it sounds great for getting home-cooked chicken ready!

    Kate, That was an inspired idea – brilliant! I feel like I can almost taste your version, too. Or at least smell it… mmmm.

    Giao, Absolutely! And getting threeish meals out of one chunk of cooking time is so my kind of style. Easy = good.

    Redmenace, Ha! Me too, it appears!

    Tim, Yes, me too! And a good throw-everything-in-a-pot soup sounds perfect right about now, in fact.

    Lainey, Can I just say that peanut sauce was so so good? I have some leftover that I’m scheming ways to use – what else would be good? Noodles?

    Kelley, Ha! I laughed at your use of the word soused. 😉 Yay for lettuce wraps – I’ve heard kids love them, so you’ll have to tell me what Jude thinks.

    Jeanell, Right? Simple is all I have the desire for lately. I love that you have a meat CSA, btw. I should look into that.

    Sue, Haha – well, good for you, pregnant ladies may eat as many times as they like. It’s a fact.

    Jessica, Perfect! This is so simple and delish. Hope you get to try it soon!

  7. Oh, how I love this idea of “boozy chicken”! And the story of a whole week of chickeny meals is just wonderful. Don’t you love it when all the little bits come together in a miraculous end?

  8. Boozy chicken, I love it! I’ve recently gotten into making chicken lettuce wraps. We found a really simply recipe that includes a mix of honey and soy sauce. I will have to try this one!

  9. Everything sounds delicious. I will definetly be trying these. Thanks for the recipes. I have eaten lettuce wraps before and they are to die for.

  10. postcollegecook, ha! thank you. I couldn’t help myself.

    E.P. – oh the smell! the taste!

    lo – yes, I do! it’s rare that things work out that well, kitchen-wise, for me, so I get very excited.

    Kim, you’re always so sweet. you are welcome and I hope you love this!

    Susan, they’re such a smart way to use stuff up! I love it!

    shell, you should! the lettuce wraps are amazing with the peanut sauce. oh my gosh. as soon as I tasted a spoonful, I was hooked.

    romanlily, why, thank you!

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