Crispy-skin chicken simply delicious
I hadn’t planned a trip to the grocery store, but a plaintive request for cold medicine, herbal tea and lemon juice saw me staunching my own runny nose in search of these soothing sundries.
The quest aligned at least with the availability of some reduced-price organic chicken drumsticks that steered the evening’s dinner plan, as well as affording some leftovers for the next meal. I knew if there was a dish to tempt my older son’s appetite while he weathered a cold, it would be crispy-skin sheet pan chicken.
Mustering enough energy to help, my son took a lesson in handling raw meat and guarding against cross-contamination while applying the spice rub that makes this chicken so good. I adapted it a few years back from a recipe for sheet pan pork chops, and it’s been a family favorite ever since.
In truth, the addition of brown sugar to the rub almost candies the chicken skin as opposed to crisping it. And the resulting sugar mingled with rendered fat, when deglazed, makes a delicious sauce. Make that a vinaigrette for veggies roasted on the same sheet, when the deglazing liquid is vinegar.
Here’s a similar technique applied to Jacques Pepin’s crispy-skin chicken executed in a cast-iron skillet. It starts by rendering the chicken fat in a dry pan, then steaming the chicken in its own juices by covering the pan.
Crispy-Skin Chicken With Pan Sauce
4 small chicken thighs or 2 large thighs
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine (see note)
1/2 cup chicken broth (see note)
3 sprigs basil, thyme or tarragon, or 2 sprigs rosemary
1/2 tablespoon butter
With a sharp knife, cut fairly deeply along both sides of bones on backs of the chicken 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 for a few minutes until you see rendered fat emerge from under meat. Cover and cook until meat is done, for 20 to 30 more minutes, depending on size of thighs (cut into meat to check; it is done when meat at thickest point is no longer pink).
Remove chicken and keep warm. Pour out fat from skillet. Place skillet back over high heat and add the wine, if using, the broth and herbs. With a wooden spoon, stir up all brown bits on bottom. Simmer until liquid is reduced by half or more. Remove pan from heat, add the butter, and swirl butter around until it is melted and incorporated into sauce.
To serve, place chicken on a plate and spoon sauce around it, to keep skin crispy.
Makes 2 servings.
NOTE: If you don’t want to use wine, double the amount of chicken broth used.
Crispy-skin method by Jacques Pepin; pan sauce recipe by Daniel Neman.