Crisp skin and juicy meat is the Holy Grail of chicken. There are several ways of achieving this goal, but the simplest of all requires almost no work on your part.
I saw how to do it on a little online video by Jacques Pepin, which proves that the internet does have some value after all. He violates one of the most time-honored rules of cooking, putting the chicken on a pan before turning on the heat.
This method of gradually heating the pan with the meat slowly renders the fat beneath the skin (for this reason, it works best with thighs), which allows the skin to become crisp. After some of the fat has rendered, he covers the pan, fully cooking the chicken in its own steam.
And because plenty of fond is left — that’s the brown bits that stick to the bottom of the pan — I use it to make a simple pan sauce with wine or broth and a couple of sprigs of herbs for added punch. The simplicity and purity of the chicken is only emphasized and enhanced by the sauce.
Crispy-Skin Chicken With Pan Sauce
- 4 small or 2 large chicken thighs
- Salt and ground black pepper
- ½ cup dry white wine (see note)
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 3 sprigs basil, thyme or tarragon OR 2 sprigs rosemary
- ½ tablespoon butter
With a sharp knife, cut fairly deeply along both sides of the bone on the back of the thighs. Season chicken with salt and pepper and place skin-side down on an unheated skillet.
Place skillet on stove and turn heat to medium-high. Cook a few minutes until you see rendered fat emerge from under the meat. Cover and cook until meat is cooked through (internal temperature of 165 degrees), 20 to 30 more minutes, depending on the size of the thighs.
Remove chicken and keep warm. Pour out fat from skillet. Place skillet back over high heat and add wine, if using, broth and herbs. With a wooden spoon, stir up all the brown bits on the bottom. Simmer until liquid is reduced by half or more. Remove pan from heat, add butter, and swirl butter around until it is melted and incorporated into sauce.
When serving, place chicken on plate and spoon sauce around it, to keep the skin crispy.
Note: If you don’t want to use wine, use 1 cup chicken broth.
Makes 2 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 365 calories, 25 g protein, 28 g fat, 1 g carbohydrate, 155 mg cholesterol, no fiber; sodium varies, no fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 0
Crispy-skin method by Jacques Pepin; pan sauce recipe by Daniel Neman