Fried chicken with irresistibly crispy skin and amazingly succulent meat doesn't necessarily entail a goopy batter and gobs of oil. Here, for instance, all it takes is the proper technique and a little patience when tinkering with the pan juices.
To multiply the recipe, reach for another skillet rather than crowd the first one.
- 1 1/2 pounds bone-on, skin-on chicken pieces (preferably dark meat)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 6 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
- A few sprigs of thyme or other herbs, plus additional for the pan sauce
- 2 to 4 tablespoons white wine or brandy
- Chicken stock or broth (optional)
Pat the chicken dry. Rub it all over with about 1 tablespoon of the oil and season generously with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Place a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter and heat until the butter begins to foam. Carefully tilt the skillet to coat the bottom evenly with the fat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook without moving it until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Then, turning as few times as possible, cook the chicken until it is golden on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, using the flat side of a chef's knife, smash the garlic; set aside. Finely chop the thyme; set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the garlic to the skillet, cover (with a lid from any large pot or a baking sheet if necessary) and cook, turning occasionally, until the chicken is evenly colored and cooked through, about 20 minutes for drumsticks, 25 minutes for thighs and up to 40 minutes for breasts.
Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Remove the garlic; discard if badly charred. Carefully tip the skillet and spoon off almost all of the fat from the pan so you have just a thin sheen left. Return the skillet to medium-high heat, add the herbs and wine and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon, until the liquid is reduced to a sauce. If the flavor is too potent, add a bit of stock to mellow it and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper. If a richer sauce is desired, remove the skillet from the heat and whisk in 1 to 2 tablespoons butter.
Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.
From "Appetite" by Nigel Slater (Clarkson Potter, 2000).
Tested by Renee Schettler.
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