My favorite hours of food programming on TV right now are found on lazy Saturday afternoons on PBS. The programs are not as high octane and thrilling as those on other networks, but they are far more useful. This past weekend I nearly lost it when I watched Jacques Pepin on his Fast Food My Way program cook chicken thighs in a non-stick skillet with absolutely no fat.
He just placed the pieces skin-side down in the skillet, turned the heat to high, and watched as the skin turned a glorious golden brown. Once sizzling, the skillet is covered, the heat is reduced to medium, and the chicken cooks until done. Pepin never flips or fiddles with it. How could this chicken be so easy?
The only fat in the skillet is rendered from the chicken skin. By the end there is a surprising amount. Luckily, it's used as the base for the quick pan sauce. The relatively simple sauce of mushrooms, onion, and garlic is saturated with a rich chickeny flavor. It's also good enough to eat with a spoon.
Pepin serves the chicken thighs with some shaved Brussels sprouts cooked in bacon fat, which I tried, and they are well worth the effort. You could also serve this with a simple salad or some fresh vegetables.
- 4 chicken thighs, skin on
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 3 cups white mushrooms, washed and diced
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon chives, chopped
Set the chicken thighs skin-side down on a cutting board. Cut a 1/2 inch thick slash on either side of the thigh bone. Season the thighs on both sides with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
Place the chicken thighs skin-side down on non-stick skillet. Only then turn the heat to high. When the chicken starts to sizzle, turn heat to medium and move the thighs around to make sure they aren't sticking to the skillet. Cover the skillet and cook for 16 to 18 minutes. Check the chicken occasionally to keep it from sticking. If the skin is browning too much after 10 minutes, then turn the heat to low. When done, transfer the thighs to a warm oven.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the chicken fat in the skillet. Turn the heat to high and then add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Sauté, stirring often, for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the remaining salt and pepper. Then pour in the wine. Continue to cook for one minute over high heat until the sauce reduces.
Spoon some of the sauce onto a plate and top with one of the chicken thighs. Sprinkle on some chives and serve.