I know how to roast a whole chicken, and I certainly know how to broil a chicken breast in a pinch. But, I’ve never figured out how to master restaurant-style chicken, much like what one would find at a nice Italian restaurant. The prospect of duplicating restaurant-style Italian chicken at home always seemed so daunting!
As the editor of AllFreeSlowCookerRecipes.com, I spend much of my time analyzing ways to cook chicken, slow-cooker-style. Additionally, there are easy and delicious ways to cook chicken on the stove and using one’s oven. Rachel, one of the editors at RecipeLion.com, and I attended the second class of our three-part Sur La Table course on on “How To Cook Everything.” The second class focused entirely on proteins, including pork, chicken, steak, and lamb. I’m going to focus on all the great tips we learned about ways to cook chicken thighs.
Below, you’ll find the recipe we followed for Chicken Cutlets with Quick Pan Sauce. We cooked the chicken quickly in a pan, and then allowed it to finish cooking in the oven. We then used the juices and flavoring from the panned cooking to create the sauce for the chicken. Our instructor, Chef Alison Honiotes, explained that by cooking the chicken thighs in the pan first, the chicken will turn out more flavorful.
Some Basic Chicken Tips:
- If you dredge your raw chicken in flour before cooking it in your sauce pan, it will help the chicken to brown evenly and seal in flavor. Using flour on your chicken will also help to thicken the sauce.
- Leave some fat on your chicken, as flavor comes from fat.
- Thighs (dark meat) are less likely to over-cook and are more moist than chicken breasts.
- When applying flour to your chicken, include salt and pepper (all-purpose flour will do).
- European butter has less water in it, which gives it a richer flavor.
- When placing chicken into your pan of sizzling oil and butter, lay the chicken down away from you so it doesn’t splash you.
- After placing your chicken in your sauce pan, you’ll observe the liquid (fat) coming 1/2 way up the side. This is what is referred to as “pan frying.” When your chicken obtains a crisp quality around the edges, it’s ready to be turned over.
How to Deglaze a Pan to Make a Sauce:
After pan-frying your chicken and removing it from the pan, you’ll find a brownish fat-juice mixture from the chicken called “fond.” You can break it down and use it to include in your sauce by adding an acid to your pan. The fond will add a richness to the flavor of your sauce. One can use water, wine, stock, citrus juice, or a combination. The liquid should be twice the amount of sauce you want to make.
- Remove the chicken (meat, or fish) from your pan to a separate serving platter and immediately add liquid to your pan.
- Raise the heat on your stove and bring the liquid in your pan to a boil, while whisking/stirring and scraping the browned bits (fond) until they dissolve in the sauce.
- Continue boiling and stirring the liquid until the sauce is reduced by half the volume.
- Add more seasoning if desire. One can also add in more butter (small chunks at a time) or olive oil for flavor and texture.
Chicken Cutlets with Quick Pan Sauce
*Recipe Courtesy of How To Cook Everything The Basics, by Mark Bittman
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thighs, or tenders (we used thighs)
- Salt and freshly-ground black peppers
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
- 1 lemon, quartered, for serving
Heat the oven to 200 degrees F, and position an oven rack in the middle.
Put the flour on a plate or in a shallow bowl next to the stove.
Mix the flour salt, and pepper.
If necessary, put each cutlet between 2 sheets of sheet or plastic wrap and pound to uniform thickness. Blot the chicken dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Put the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
When the butter has melted, turn a piece of chicken in the flour to coat it on all sides; shake off any excess.
Add the floured chicken to the pan, then repeat with the next piece; work in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan. (Begin by placing the chicken pieces presentation side down–the smooth side.)
Cook, adjusting the heat as needed so that the fat is always bubbling but the chicken doesn’t burn.
After 2 minutes, rotate the chicken so that the outside edges are moved toward the center and vice versa (don’t flip them; you’ll want the same side in contact with the fat).
When the bottom of each piece is brown, after 3 to 4 minutes, turn them over.
Cook on the second side, adjusting the heat as needed, and cook until the chicken is firm to the touch but still a bit pink inside, another 3 to 4 minutes.
To check for doneness, cut into a piece with a thin-bladed knife and take a peek.
Transfer the chicken to an ovenproof platter and put it in the oven.
Add the wine to the skillet, keeping the heat at medium-high. Let it bubble away as you stir and scrape the bottom of the pan, until about half the wine has evaporated, a minute or 2.
Pour in the water and continue to stir until the liquid has thickened slightly and reduced to 1/4 cup, another 2 or 3 minutes.
Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the skillet and swirl the pan around until the butter melts; turn off the heat.
Remove the chicken from the oven, and if any juices have accumulated on the platter, add them to the skillet with the 1/4 cup parsley.
Stir, taste the sauce, and adjust the seasoning.
Spoon the sauce over the chicken, garnish with the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, and serve with lemon quarters.
It helps to get organized before cooking this recipe. Until you get the hang of dredging, set up everything before you start.
Any Cutlets with Quick Pan Sauce
Try turkey, pork, or veal cutlets; or fish fillets here. Cooking times will vary by up to a couple of minutes per side, but the clues for knowing when to turn them and how to recognize doneness remain the same.
Chicken Cutlets with Balsamic Sauce
Follow the recipe as written above and add the wine, stir in 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar just before adding the butter.
To learn about pork preparation from this same course, check out our article on RecipeChatter.com, The Roast With The Most: The Only Pork Roast Recipe You Need.
What’s your favorite way to prepare chicken?