Not the best picture, but in my defense I was really hungry.
It’s taking a little longer than usual to knock this one out because, like the smart girl that I am, I grabbed the handle of a pan I had just taken out of a 400°F oven and burned the dickens out of my right hand. Now I have to come up with a cool story for this scar that isn’t “I’m dumb.”
If you cook a lot, you’ve probably made this mistake too and can confirm that it sucks. If you haven’t, well congrats smarty-pants. If you’re lucky enough to have not done it yet, but you are sitting there saying “Ouch, that’s TOTALLY something that would happen to me” here’s a few notes:
1) When you take a frying pan out of the oven, LEAVE THE POT HOLDER OR A TOWEL OR FOR THE LOVE OF GOD ANYTHING on the handle. That way you cant forget and wont go branding your hand like I did.
2) First-degree burns hurt like a MOTHER. There are many many nerve endings in your hands, trust me. When you do burn yourself, grab an ice pack and some Advil.
3) The grocery store brand’s “hormone free, natural” claim has got to be a load of bullshit. Either that or I they are raising some damn mutant dinosaur chickens because these thighs were GIGANTIC. The picture doesn’t do them justice but wow, I was amazed. Still delicious.
- 8 bone in skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 lemon, cut into 1/4-inch half-moon slices
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- 1 bulb of garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 cups Brussels sprouts, stem end and outer leaves removed, cut in thirds lengthwise
- 2 cups new potatoes, cut lengthwise
- 1-2 cups prosecco (or dry white wine)
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp heat (I used chili-garlic paste, but you could use red pepper flakes, hot sauce, whatever you like)
- 3-4 sprigs rosemary, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
- Throw the bulb of garlic in there, unpeeled, to roast while you prep.
- Chop the brussels and potatoes and toss with some kosher salt, black pepper, rosemary, and a drizzle of olive oil. Set aside.
- Set a large deep-sided frying pan over medium-high heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil (or canola, vegetable, whatever).
- While it pre-heats, season the chicken aggressively with salt and pepper on both sides. I was reading one of my many favorite cooking sites and a recipe said “season aggressively.” I love it. Season like you mean it.
- When the oil begins to shimmer, add the chicken thighs skin-side down. Be sure to leave some space between them and not overcrowd the pan. If your pan isn’t big enough, its better to do batches for this step because flabby skin sucks.
- DO NOT TOUCH THEM FOR 8 STRAIGHT MINUTES. I’m serious. Time it if you have to. At eight minutes, you may give into your curiosity and peek, but don’t take those suckers out until they are golden brown and beautiful.
- As they cook, remove your now beautifully roasted garlic from the oven. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze the roasted garlic into a bowl and discard the husk.
- To the bowl, add the honey, heat element, and Dijon mustard. Mix well.
- Mine were monstrously huge (hormone-free my ass), so they took more like twelve minutes to get fully browned. Be patient. Once they are all bronzed to perfection, remove them from the pan and set aside on a plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the bottom of your pan and place it back over the heat.
- Toss in your lemons, brussels, and potatoes and let them sit, undisturbed, for 2-3 minutes. You want them to get a little flavor too. Browned is better.
- Pour in your liquid (prosecco in my case), and use a spoon to scrape all the beautiful fond off the bottom of the pan. Once the liquid begins to simmer, turn off the heat.
- Nestle the chicken back in on top, careful to leave the skin exposed. Gently lift the skin and spread your garlic paste on the meat underneath on each thigh.
- Put the whole shebang in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. At that mark, check the temperature. You are aiming for 165 in the thickest part of your biggest chicken thigh. Unless the thighs you used are very small, you are unlikely to be done at this point. It does help you estimate, however, how much further you have to go. It’s also a good opportunity to check the liquid level in your braise. If it’s drying out, more wine! When it comes to braising, dry pan= burned, stuck-on food. Not fun.
- My Godzilla-ass chicken thighs took another 20 minutes before they were cooked through. When they are done, remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. And please, PLEASE, don’t go grabbing the pan handle.
That’s it. One pan, easy cleaning. I sort of detest the pinterest-y “everything should be a one-pot wonder” schtick but in this case, it works. And of course no one likes doing a ton of dishes. Braised chicken thighs, once you get the basic formula down (sear, remove, veggies, liquid, roast), are an extremely versatile weeknight option. All you have to do is switch out the spices.
One of the few downsides I see to being the dinner-maker is that sometimes by the time you get to serving you’ve been tasting and smelling it for so long that it just tastes.. meh. Like last night, I set this down in front of my family and they LOVED it. My sister said there was nothing she would change about the recipe. My dad gave a noncommittal grunt of approval, a great sign, but I was just not impressed. It tasted good, but it was missing an edge.
It’s a classic case of sensory fatigue. You know that commercial about going “nose-blind”? That’s a real thing. Smell is such a crucial factor in our experience of food that it’s no surprise this smell fatigue could take away from the experience. Here’s a tip that I am going to try next time: while your food is resting, take a step outside and reset for a few minutes. Step back in and smell the joy.
In between paragraphs I am scarfing down bites of the leftovers and confirming this. It tastes so much better today, although I do miss my crispy skin (damn you microwave).