Weeknight Chicken

From Cook's Country | February/March 2011

Why this recipe works:

Stealing an idea from the restaurant industry, we started our Weeknight Chicken in a skillet to give it a good sear and a head start on crisp skin. Adding a little chicken broth to the pan before finishing the chicken in the oven acted as a buffer and prevented the white meat from drying out… read more

Stealing an idea from the restaurant industry, we started our Weeknight Chicken in a skillet to give it a good sear and a head start on crisp skin. Adding a little chicken broth to the pan before finishing the chicken in the oven acted as a buffer and prevented the white meat from drying out and the skin from burning. We cranked the oven temperature to speed up the cooking time and ensure that the skin didn’t become too soggy from sitting in the chicken broth. It also reduced the chicken broth, which became the base for a flavorful pan sauce.

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Serves 4 to 6

Use any combination of white and dark meat. For even cooking, halve breasts crosswise and separate leg quarters into thighs and drumsticks.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 salt

Instructions

  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Whisk 2 tablespoons broth and cornstarch in small bowl until no lumps remain; reserve. Combine remaining broth, wine, garlic, and thyme in large measuring cup.

    2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in large ovensafe skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook chicken, skin side down, until well browned, 6 to 10 minutes. Flip and cook until lightly browned on second side, about 2 minutes.

    3. Slowly pour broth mixture into skillet and bring to boil. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until white meat registers 160 degrees and dark meat registers 175 degrees, 12 to 18 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter and tent with aluminum foil. Discard garlic.

    4. Pour pan juices into liquid measuring cup; skim and discard fat. Return 1½ cups defatted pan juices to now-empty skillet and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce is reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 7 minutes. Add reserved cornstarch mixture and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter. Season with salt and pepper. Serve, passing sauce at table.

Poaching Meets Roasting

When we want fast weeknight chicken, there is no time for long marinating or brining. So how can we keep the chicken meat moist and the skin crisp? We cook it partly submerged in flavorful liquid.


 

THE MEAT stays moist and drinks in flavor from the poaching liquid, which combines chicken broth, wine, and seasonings. The liquid moderates temperature so that the dark-meat thighs can finish cooking without the white-meat breasts overcooking.

THE SKIN which we have already seared on the stovetop, stays above the simmering cooking liquid, crisping further in the 450-degree heat of the oven.

THE BROTH evaporates and concentrates in the oven, making the base for a quick, elegant, and flavorful sauce.

 

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