The perennial search for good, fast chicken almost invariably ends at the front of the bird. This time, look a little farther, to the thigh: meaty, moister and more flavorful than the average boneless breast will ever be.
Here, Jacques Pepin cooks thighs skin side down in a nonstick skillet to ensure crispness and wields a few judicious cuts of the knife to promote quicker cooking. In his new cookbook, he writes that "portions are relatively small, but within the context of a full menu, this is enough meat."
The flavor of the wine is prominent, so make sure the wine you use is one you like to drink.
Serve with a green salad.
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 1 3/4 pounds total)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small onion
- 2 to 3 large cloves garlic
- 10 ounces baby bella or white mushrooms
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 6 to 8 chives, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees (or 170, if that is the lowest temperature). Have ready an ovenproof platter and 4 heatproof dinner plates.
Place the chicken thighs skin side down on a cutting board. Use a sharp paring knife to trim away any excess skin and fat at the edges. Cut a slit about 1/2 inch deep into the flesh on either side of the thighbone to help the meat cook faster.
Use 1/2 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper to season the thighs all over. Arrange them skin side down in one layer in a nonstick skillet with a tight-fitting lid, then place the skillet over high heat. When the thighs start to sizzle, reduce the heat to medium, cover tightly and cook for 16 to 18 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure they are browning properly. If the chicken seems to be cooking too fast after 10 minutes or so, reduce the heat to low. The skin of the chicken should be very crisp and brown. Transfer the thighs skin side up to the platter and place in the oven, along with the stack of plates.
While the chicken is cooking, cut the onion into 1/4-inch dice to yield 1 cup. Coarsely chop the garlic to yield 1 1/2 tablespoons. Wash and trim the mushrooms, wipe them dry and cut them into 1/2-inch dice. Snip or trim enough chives to yield 1 tablespoon; reserve for a garnish.
Discard all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the skillet in which you cooked the chicken. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms, stirring to combine; cook over high heat, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper over the mixture, then add the wine and any liquid that has accumulated around the thighs on the platter. Cook over high heat for about 1 minute to reduce the liquid.
To serve, divide the mushroom sauce among the warmed dinner plates. Place a thigh in the middle of the sauce on each plate, and sprinkle the chives on top.
Adapted from "Jacques Pepin: More Fast Food My Way" (Houghton Mifflin, 2008).
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
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