Sometimes the simplest dishes are the most satisfying and the most memorable. That’s certainly true of this easy chicken saute with creamy lemon sauce.
It seems to me that the art of the simple sauté and accompanying deglazing sauce, as two of the foundational techniques in classic French cuisine, have become near relics of the past. I rarely see them on menus anymore.
I encountered this French version of country fried with pan gravy in my early twenties, in none other than Julia Child’s, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Today though, I kick it up another notch by dry curing the poultry for a day or so in the fridge. With this technique, the seasoning permeates the meat all the way through and tenderizes it as well. It lifts ordinary chicken to ethereal heights.
Sautéed Chicken Thighs with Savory Herbs & Garlic
This recipe illustrates the ease and richness possible from a simple reduction sauce with an egg yolk, cream, and lemon enrichment. For a change of flavor, tarragon can be substituted for the thyme, basil, and fennel combination.
4 tablespoons clarified butter (or half butter and half cooking oil)
6-8 plump, bone-in chicken thighs (dry-cured overnight if possible; see below)
1½ teaspoons dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon fennel, ground in mortar and pestle
fine sea salt, to taste
freshly ground white pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic, skinned and minced
½ cup dry white wine
1 large egg yolk
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely minced
- With paper towels, pat dry chicken thighs thoroughly.
- To sauté chicken: In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat clarified butter (or butter and oil) until fully foaming. Add chicken thighs, skin-side-down, making sure not to overcrowd them. Ideally, there should be some space visible between each piece.
- Crush herbs by rubbing between your hands, and sprinkle evenly over chicken. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
- After about 10 minutes, using tongs, check the skin side of chicken, and turn those pieces that are golden brown.
- When all pieces are turned, add minced garlic, cover skillet, lower heat to medium-low, and cook slowly for additional 25 minutes, or until meat juices run clear at the bone when tested with a knife tip. An instant-read thermometer should read 180ºF.
- Remove chicken to a heated serving platter, and keep warm in a 300ºF oven.
- To make sauce: Raise heat under skillet, add wine, and reduce by half.
- In a small bowl, combine egg yolk and cream, and whisk together thoroughly. Whisk in a little of the skillet liquid, drop by drop, to slowly raise the temperature of the egg yolk, then whisk this mixture into skillet juices, making sure that the sauce does not come back to a simmer after this point.
- Season with salt, pepper, and drops of lemon juice. Finish by swirling in the remaining butter.
- To serve: Nap chicken with sauce, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.
Dry Cure for Meat & Poultry
coarse sea salt in a grinder
black pepper in a grinder
- Grind salt and pepper liberally over meat or poultry.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and fridge for 1-3 days.
Copyright 2017 Susan S. Bradley. All Rights Reserved.