Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Search for Crispy Skin: Stovetop Roast Chicken with Lemon Herb Sauce

I'm surprised I haven't posted about this recipe already. The first time I made this chicken was a revelation to me--even the breast meat was juicy and the skin was crispy.  Of course, there's an extra step or two more than how I would usually pan roast chicken.  You have to crisp the skin then cook the chicken through then crisp the skin again, but the results are definitely worth it!  This makes for a nice weekend dinner that's easier for me than a traditional roast chicken, mostly because I haven't mastered covering a hot chicken.

The key to this recipe as with most roasting is having a good meat thermometer.  I used to use a Polder probe thermometer that would stay in the meat with a separate screen that monitored the meat and over temperatures.  The first one I had was great, and I used it for years.  However, eventually the temperatures became more inaccurate, and the replacement I purchased didn't work.  I spent a few years avoiding roasting altogether, lusting over the Thermapen recommended by Cook's Illustrated (CI).  However, I couldn't justify spending almost $100 on a meat thermometer.  Thankfully, the good people at CI did a kitchen test of inexpensive meat thermometers last year, and I purchased the recommended CDN ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer for about $13.  While I miss the convenience of a probe thermometer, the CDN Quick-Read lives up to its name, registering the temperature much faster than my old Polder. While cooking at my sister's this past Christmas, I found out she didn't have a working meat thermometer, and I immediately express shipped her the CDN thermometer!

If you're interested in hearing more about whether a Thermapen is worth the money, check out my former cooking teacher's kitchen test of meat thermometers.

Stovetop Roast Chicken with Lemon Herb Sauce
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

3 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (breasts, thighs, and drumsticks, or a mix, with breasts cut in half), trimmed of excess fat
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 - 1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

Lemon-Herb Sauce
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
1 teaspoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

1. Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken pieces skin-side down and cook without moving until golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes.

2. Using tongs, flip chicken pieces skin-side up. Reduce heat to medium-low, add 3/4 cup broth to skillet, cover, and cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 155 degrees for breasts and 170 degrees for legs and thighs, 10 to 16 minutes (smaller pieces may cook faster than larger pieces). Transfer chicken to plate, skin-side up.

3. Pour off liquid from skillet into 2-cup measuring cup and reserve. Using tongs, wipe skillet with paper towels. Add remaining teaspoon oil to skillet and heat over medium-high heat until oil is shimmering. Return chicken pieces skin-side down and cook undisturbed until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and it reaches 160 degrees for breasts and 175 degrees for legs and thighs, 4 to 7 minutes. Transfer to serving platter and tent loosely with foil. Using spoon, skim fat from reserved cooking liquid and add enough broth to measure 3/4 cup.

4. Heat teaspoon of oil in now-empty skillet over low heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 1 minute. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Increase heat to medium-high, add reserved cooking liquid, and bring to simmer, scraping skillet bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Simmer rapidly until reduced to 1/2 cup, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in any accumulated juices from resting chicken; return to simmer and cook 30 seconds. Off heat, whisk in lemon juice, parsley, and butter; season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce around chicken and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 45 to 60 minutes, mostly active