There is nothing worse than dry flavorless chicken. Boneless skinless breasts are useful, easy to cook, and I guess they are healthy or something, but the number of ways to fix them and have them be really appetizing is sort of limited. I was always conviced to try and use breasts because the cost suggests that they are a high quality meat, but I learned that you are really paying for the waste and labor. On the other hand thigh meat and bone in meat is really much more flavorful and much more cost effective, and I can’t seem to find a bad way to cook them. I can add flavors from every culture, bake them, fry them, batter them, bread them, cook them slow, or cook them quick, and the list goes on. One of my all time favorite things to do is braise them. Braising is really just a technique where the chicken is covered 2/3rds up in a flavorful liquid, covered, and simmered slowly until it becomes fork tender. You can do this with a wide variety of flavors and ultimately it is a very easy technique that I think becomes a very impressive dinner.
One pitfalls of this technique can be browning. Chicken and most meats don’t look very attractive or hold flavor very well if they aren’t browned before braising. I like to coat my chicken in a lightly seasoned flour and brown both sides very well before adding any liquid, and I use my pan drippings to flavor the braising liquid. The nice thing about chicken skin is that it is naturally very fatty, so you really don’t need to add any oil to brown your thigh pieces.However, because they are so fatty you need to be a little bit patient when browing or you risk burning the skin or if you go to slow you don’t get a cook crisp and the skin can become a little rubbery. It works best if you have a nice heavy pan to work with. Then, make sure you heat the pan thoroughly on medium heat. It is important to get a little sizzle when you lay the chicken skin side down. Then be patient, and let the color build as the fats render, and the skin crisps up. Do the same to the bottom of the chicken.
If you master browning, the rest of the recipe is easy. You will set the chicken aside, make a little sauce my adding your ingredients to the pan, return the chicken, cover, and leave it alone.
Butter Sage Chicken
Serves 4 Prep 20min Cook 1hr 10min
8 Pieces Chicken Thigh (bone-in with skin)
1 stick of salted butter
1/2 C. Water
3 cloves Garlic
2 Tbsp Fresh Sage
1 C. Flour (to make a dredge for the chicken)
3 Tbsp Salt
1 Tsp Pepper
1 Tsp Paprika
- Preheat your oven to 350°. Then heat a heavy pan on medium heat. I used a caste iron with ceramic than can go in the oven. You can finish this on the stove if you don’t have a pan that goes in the oven.
- Make a dredge by mixing flour with spices in a wide bowl.
- Clean the chicken thighs by removing any skin that hangs over the edge or is tucked under the thigh. Kitchen scissors work best.
- Dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour and lay each piece skin side down in your hot pan.
- Patiently wait for you chicken to brown. It takes about 7 minutes on each side. While it is cooking, clean your sage and chop into ribbons. Wash and slice lemons, and peal and chop garlic.
- Once your chicken is brown on one side, turn and repeat on the under side. (The chicken will not be fully cooked, and must be finished before serving)
- Set brown chicken on a plate and set aside.
- Lower your heat to medium/low or low.
- Add Butter and melt. Use the added liquid to deglaze the pan. (That means using a spoon to scrape up the burnt on bits. This adds great flavor)
- Once butter is melted, add garlic and sage. Then lay half the lemon slices on the bottom of the pan.
- Return the chicken to the pan, and top with the remaining lemons.
- Add water, cover, and place in 350° oven for 1 hr.
- If you do not have an ovenable pan, cover, turn burner down to low, and keep at a very low simmer for 1 hr.
“and then I decided I was a lemon for a couple of weeks.” Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe and Everything