One of my favorite Sunday night meals is a roast chicken. It takes minimal effort to prepare, makes the house smell so comforting, is deliciously rewarding when you eat that perfect bite of crisp skin and juicy meat, and has the feel of a holiday dinner without the pressure of having to celebrate something.
But every now and then I get a hankering for roast chicken, but don’t have the time to baby sit my oven for an hour and a half. So what to do then? That’s when I look for bone in, skin on chicken parts. A quick sear, skin side down in a hot skillet then 20 short minutes in the oven yields just as much roast chicken joy but on a shorter time frame. Only thing missing is the side of happy, roasted vegetables (since I usually roast my chicken over a bed of root vegetables and potatoes to take full advantage of crisping them up from the chicken fat rendered) so I look for other ways to dress up this meal a little.
In this case, the dress up came from making a rich, flavorful mushroom cream sauce to pour over the chicken. I caramelized some cremini mushrooms in the same skillet in which I did the initial sear on these chicken thighs. A splash of dry vermouth was used to deglaze the pan, picking up all the flavors from the chicken. A light sprinkle of flour was then mixed in with some melted butter to make a roux for thickening the sauce, then I added cream and chicken stock to give the sauce body and an extra boost of flavor. Finally, some fresh tarragon gave a crisp, light taste to cut through the creamy sauce. Suddenly, a Wednesday night felt as homey as a Sunday one.
- 16 oz bone in, skin on chicken thighs
- olive oil
- 8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup dry vermouth
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp tarragon, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large skillet with about 2 tsp olive oil over medium high heat. Salt and pepper the skin side of the chicken. When the pan is hot, put the chicken, skin side down in the skillet and salt and pepper the under side of the thighs. Let them cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the skin is crisp and brown. Remove the thighs to a baking dish, skin side up. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken but not touching the bone registers to read 160 degrees. Remove to a plate, covered with foil to keep warm.
In the same skillet used to cook the chicken add about 1 tbsp olive oil and sauté the shallot and garlic until translucent. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5-10 minutes or until browned. Add the vermouth, and using a wooden spoon, scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, cooking over medium heat until the vermouth is almost all absorbed. Add the tbsp of butter. After it melts, sprinkle the flour over the pan’s contents evenly. Stir and cook for about 1-2 minutes, then add the chicken stock and cream. Simmer for a few minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly, then add about half the tarragon. Plate the chicken with the sauce and add remaining tarragon for garnish. Keep the bones in a plastic bag in the freezer to make chicken stock when you’ve accumulated about 2 lbs of chicken bones from other meals, if you want.
CSA Count: 2 (3 if you count the side)
Shallot, garlic (fingerling potatoes)