Thursday, September 24, 2009

From lowly to high and mighty: chicken thighs with tarragon pan sauce

Unless you're trying to cook neck bones (which actually work great for stock) the lowliest cut on the chicken is the thigh. The crazy thing is that it's one of the tastiest parts of the bird. We're so brainwashed into thinking that boneless, skinless is all we can eat, that the industry has tailored it's production and made this one of the highest price cuts. It involves the most labor, but has some of the least flavor of any other part.

Pan fried chicken thighs with tarragon sauce
4-6 chicken thighs
salt, pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup of water or chicken stock
2 tbsp of minced shallot (optional)
2 tbsp of tarragon leaves, minced
2 up to 6-8 tbsp of butter

Enter the chicken thigh. You can get them boneless or bone in, it doesn't matter. If you get them with the bone in, just cut slits longitudinally along the bone as this is the part of the cut that takes the longest to cook (remember the heat sink principle). Season with salt, pepper or whatever you like to put on chicken.

Put a big saute pan on medium high. You can use non-stick, but it's not necessary. Lay the chicken thighs down skin down. Turn the heat to low, drop the temp to low and COVER. There will be no turning this over, you don't need it. Cook 15-20 minutes until the meat the around the bone looks cooked and there is no blood coming from it.

This is where I prefer to use a regular steel, clad skillet. Take your thighs out, set them aside to rest. Add a dry white wine to deglaze the plan, 1/2 cup, medium heat and allow it to start to reduce. Add a cup of water (good) or chicken stock (better), and let this reduce. Add about a couple of tablespoons of minced tarragon leaves (dry will work fine for this), and you can add minced shallot if you like but it's not totally necessary. Add 1 or 2 tbsp of butter when the sauce gets reduced down to spoon-coating consistency to start sort of an emulsion, then add as much as you think you can stand. You're welcome to strain this sauce and use clarified butter instead if you really want to "do it up." Season with salt, pepper as needed. Serve over the chicken or on the side. You will be amazed at how well the tarragon pairs with the chicken, and I'll discuss this in a future post.
For more cooking notes on cooking the chicken thighs (or if you don't believe that you can cook them this way) check out the master Jacques Pepin on More Fast Food My Way, which all episodes are available on video. Advance to about 2:20 to watch how he does it. If you haven't checked out this show, I can't recommend it highly enough.

1 comment:

JW said...

Until recently, I only cooked chicken thighs...see my new post. This looks damn tasty, and I cannot echo your thoughts on Pepin enough. I think I have a man-crush?