This is my new favorite way to fix chicken, partly because of the amazing flavor and partly because it is easy to fix. The chicken is very simple, just salted and browned on the skin side in a pan, then roasted in the oven while you work on the pan sauce. The sauce is started with shallots and thyme sauteed in some of the leftover drippings, then apple cider vinegar deglazes the pan, followed by maple syrup and crushed black peppercorns adding a little sweet and a little heat. The whole thing is reduced by half then poured over the crispy roasted chicken. The smells in the kitchen while this dish is in progress are so good! Serve it with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and some greens, and you've got an easy and delicious meal.
The recipe comes from Cooking with Shelburne Farms: Food and Stories from Vermont, a new cookbook that I reviewed last month and fell in love with. I make the recipe as is, except we cook just two or three chicken breasts and use the whole sauce recipe. If we used more breast pieces or cooked a whole chicken, we would have to double the sauce because we love it poured over mashed potatoes and on the side for dipping the chicken.
This dish is my contribution to this week's Weekend Herb Blogging event, hosted by Vanessa from What Geeks Eat. Be sure to check out her blog on Monday November 19 to see what everyone created this week!
[Updated January 21, 2010.]
Maple and Black Pepper Chicken
- large skillet, not nonstick
- 9x13-inch baking pan, lined with foil
- 3 pounds whole chicken (cut into pieces, skin and bones intact (or 3 or 4 chicken breasts, with skin and bones))
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large shallot (finely chopped)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1½ teaspoons whole black peppercorns (slightly crushed)
- Preheat the oven to 375° F/190° C.
- Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle the skin side with the kosher salt. Heat the olive oil in the skillet until the oil shimmers. Place the chicken breasts in the pan, skin side down, and cook until crispy and lightly golden, about 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from the pan and put in the prepared baking pan.
- Add the thighs and legs to the pan, skin side down, and cook until crispy and lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Add to the baking pan. Reserve the skillet and 2 tablespoons of the drippings for the sauce.
- Roast the chicken pieces uncovered for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the meat closes to the bone is opaque. Temperature should be about 165° F/75° C for the breasts and 175° F/80° C for the thighs and legs.
- SAUCE: Make the sauce while the chicken roasts. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the shallots, thyme, and kosher salt, cooking for 1 to 2 minutes, just until the shallots start to show some color.
- Add the cider vinegar to deglaze the pan, and simmer for about 2 minutes, scraping up the fond (the brown bits) from the bottom of the pan.
- Stir in the maple syrup and the crushed peppercorns and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. The sauce should reduce by about half. Season to taste.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken pieces and serve immediately.