Weeknight Chicken + Dijon Pan Sauce
Mondays are the worst days for cooking. The beginning of the week, where my willpower is lost in the absence of Saturday and Sunday. It makes the idea of prepping ingredients, dirtying dishes, and spending time doing anything but laying on the couch in protest of the workweek. And you know what? Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are all the same. Might as well call it Monday Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Weeknights are the perfect days for chicken thighs.
I eat a lot of chicken thighs.
Arguably, they are the perfect part of any animal. They are fatty, without being too grissley, they can take a lot of heat and a long cook without getting dry, but don’t take than long to cook if you don’t have a lot of time. They pack so much flavor compared to a chicken breast and they can be eaten with a knife and fork, or just eaten by hand if they are on the bone.
Chicken thighs are the best protein which have so much flavor and very minimal work.
One of my favorite ways to cook a chicken thigh is in a pan, to get lots of delicious browning which turns into a delicious sauce. Lay the whole thing over a bed of mashed potatoes or rice, and I’m a happy girl.
The following recipe isn’t necessarily the fastest, or the most “simple”, but I feel it is the best home cooked meal with the least amount of effort I can muster on a weeknight.
When choosing a white wine for cooking, some people say to use the cheapest wine possible. I say cook with the wine you will be pairing with your dish. Typically, cooking wine is better dry than sweet, but do whatever you’d like. I used a delicious Burgundy Chardonnay for this recipe.
Please be wary of salting this dish! Because you build the sauce from the crispy bits left behind in your pan by the chicken (called “fond”), the salt that you put on your chicken will be extra concentrated as the sauce reduces. Opt for less salt, you can always add more at the end!
When you cook your chicken with the skin side down, do not move them once you place them into the pan. They will sizzle and hiss at you, but don’t listen to them. They are fine, and moving them around the pan will prevent good browning - which you will need to build your sauce.
A fish spatula will be you best friend when it comes to pan cooked chicken. If you use pans without a non-stick coating, you know the pain of food sticking to the bottom. While the chicken should brown so thoroughly that it will release on its own, any small amount of stockage can be thwarted with a fish spatula! Go get one!
Don’t be afraid of overcooking your chicken. Chicken thighs can handle a long cook without getting too dry, this is the benefit of dark meat. Additionally, bone-in chicken thighs take longer to cook anyway. I popped mine in the oven to finish cooking while I finished up the pan sauce! If you are concerned about over cooking your chicken and would prefer not to place them in the oven, make sure to check them with a meat thermometer that registers 165* Fahrenheit.
The shallot in this dish can be sliced into thin rounds or you can dice them. Personally, I prefer to slice them into rounds for textural reasons.
My favorite pair with this chicken dish is mashed potatoes, however rice would work just as well. My favorite mashed potato recipe is this one.
Yield: 2 servings
TIme: 40 minutes
1 lb Bone in, skin on chicken thighs
1 tsp kosher salt
Pepper to taste
1 tsp Herbs de provence
2 tbsp olive oil
1 Shallot, sliced into rounds OR diced
1 -2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup white wine
1 tbsp + 1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
2 tbsp butter
Preheat an oven to 375.
Heat a large pan over medium heat. Prep your chicken thighs by drying them each with a paper towel and trimming any excess skin that folds off of the meat. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence over each side of the chicken thighs. Pour olive oil into your heated pan and swirl around the bottom to coat. If the oil begins to smoke a little bit, this is okay, go ahead and add your chicken thighs with the skin side down.
Allow the chicken to cook for 5-6 minutes without moving them. Once the chicken releases easily from the pan and you see that the skin is perfectly golden brown and crispy, flip over and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes on the other side.
Move the chicken to a foil lined baking sheet and place in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. When finished cooking, check the chicken with a meat thermometer which should register at 165 Fahrenheit. Make sure not to place the thermometer next to the bone and to check the thickest part of the meet.
While the chicken is baking, time to begin building your sauce. Remove all but 1-2 tablespoons of rendered fat from your pan, and place back on medium-low heat. Place shallots in the pan and cook, stirring regularly, until they are completely translucent. Then, add the garlic and toss for 1-2 minutes.
Pour your white wine in the pan and stir, bringing up any of the brown bits that had adhered to the bottom. Cook the wine until it has reduced by at least half, and all of the alcohol has cooked out which will take about 4-5 minutes. Next, add your thyme and dijon and stir until completely incorporated.
Add your chicken stock and allow the sauce to simmer until reduced by 2/3rds, about 5-6 minutes, and has thickened slightly. The sauce should still be loose compared to a traditional gravy, but will still coat the back of a spoon.
Remove the pan from heat and add your butter, stirring constantly until completely incorporated into the sauce.
Place the chicken thighs in your sauce and prepare to serve over a bed of mashed potatoes or rice!