The Ingredient That Will Take Your Chicken Dinner Up A Notch

Whether you prefer it braised, roasted, fried, or baked, there's no denying that chicken is a dinnertime go-to for home cooks around the world. But as versatile as the popular protein is, eating chicken dishes on repeat can quickly become monotonous. Luckily, there's a surefire way to add some zip back into your chicken dinners — and all you need is a splash of vinegar.

According to MyRecipes, adding vinegar to braised chicken can entirely transform its flavor, adding depth and dimension to the savory dish. And the technique — which the site says is an old French trick — couldn't be simpler. Just replace a small portion of the braising liquid, typically stock, wine, or water, with the vinegar of your choice.

Cook's Illustrated echoes this sentiment, singing the praises of poulet au vinaigre, a traditional, often home-cooked French dish. As the publication notes, the addition of red wine vinegar to the braise — which also consists of chicken broth, fresh tomato, and heavy cream — gives the creamy, savory sauce a much-needed edge.

Choosing the best vinegar for your dish

While the trick itself is easy enough, the idea of choosing the right vinegar for your dish can be daunting. Generally speaking, you'll want to look for vinegar that complements the ingredients and cuisine of your overall dish. As a starting point, MyRecipes suggests pairing Greek recipes with red or white wine vinegars and French recipes with champagne vinegar. Spanish dishes do well with sherry vinegar, they added, and German flavors often meld with apple cider vinegar. With Italian recipes, you can usually use balsamic vinegar to add a tanginess to your meal.

The site advises against using distilled white vinegar, as its strong flavor will remain sharp, even if you cook it for a long time. Flavored and infused vinegars should also generally be avoided, as these can contribute flavors that clash with the rest of the dish.

To put this trick into practice, you can try making Bon Appétit's Vinegar-Braised Chicken and Onions, which relies on both balsamic and red wine vinegars to add depth and complexity. Alternatively, you can turn to Food & Wine's Cider Vinegar-Braised Chicken Thighs which, as its name suggests, includes a hefty dose of cider vinegar.