The next time around, I halved the breasts crosswise, separating the thinner tapered ends from the thicker broad ends so that I could add the thin pieces to the pot last. I also brined the chicken before cooking. Meat destined for braising is not typically brined, but this unorthodox step greatly improved the white meat, keeping it moist and tender, and offered extra insurance that the thighs stay moist.
It took a few tries to find the final order of operations, but I eventually came up with the following routine: Give the dark meat an 8-minute head start, nestle the broad ends of the breasts into the pot skin side down, flip them 5 minutes later (I found that they needed to cook on both sides since they were so thick), and finally, add the tapered ends. (Try as I might, I couldn’t prevent the tapered ends from overcooking if I browned their skin, so I left them unbrowned.) Finally, I covered the pot and transferred it to a 300-degree oven, where the enveloping heat finished cooking the chicken at a bare simmer. After roughly 20 more minutes, all three cuts of chicken were as tender and juicy as could be.
The only thing that remained was to give the sauce some oomph. Whole-grain mustard, fresh parsley, and lemon juice perked things up. The recipe was easily adaptable by swapping out the mustard and herbs for other ingredients, such as tomato and basil for a Mediterranean version. These recipes will remind you why this technique is a classic.