I have learned a lot of tips and tricks regarding how to elevate simple meals over the course of my cooking career, but one of the most important is that of the pan sauce. This is a classic French technique that can elevate just about any dish. Made with just a handful of ingredients and in a matter of minutes— it can look and taste nearly as rich as a classic, French sauce. The base of a pan sauce is the fond, or those little browned bits, clinging to the bottom of your skillet after sautéing or searing meat, poultry, or fish. After cooking a protein, aromatics and liquid (often times wine, or stock) are added to the pan in a process called deglazing. In deglazing a pan, the flavors from the previously cooked protein and newly added aromatics and liquid fuse together to form a flavorful sauce, capable of taking any dish to the next level. None the less, if you have never attempted to make a pan sauce, now is the time to try it out.
PAN SEARED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH PAN SAUCE
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup shallots , finely minced
1 cup white wine or chicken stock if you can't or don't use alcohol in your cooking
1 1/3 cup chicken broth/stock
4 tablespoons cold high-quality butter like Kerrygold
stems of fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, or sage
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
Pat chicken thighs very dry and then season very liberally with kosher salt.
Heat oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, then, using tongs, place chicken thighs skin-side down in skillet and sear for about 7-8 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown and no longer sticks to the pan.
Flip chicken thighs then transfer skillet to oven. Roast 15 minutes or until internal thermometer registers a temperature of about 162º. Carefully remove skillet from oven.
Be careful: always using a potholder on the skillet handle during the rest of the recipe. Transfer chicken thighs to plate, then pour off all but about 1-2 tablespoons fat from skillet. Return skillet to stove over medium-low heat.
Add the shallots and sauté, stirring regularly, until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Carefully add white wine and deglaze, scraping the skillet with a wire whisk to loosen all the browned bits on the skillet. Bring wine-shallot mixture to a boil then reduce by half.
Add chicken stock and again bring to a boil. Reduce the mixture by half, or until mixture is no longer soupy but thicker, like a sauce. If using fresh herbs, stir in now. Remove from heat and stir in cold butter, whisking constantly until melted. Season with salt.
Serve thighs ladled with plenty of pan sauce over them. Enjoy!