So many times when I am looking for recipes online or teaching a class, I hear and read about kitchen “tips” that just boggle my mind.
One of the most common ones is that you need to rinse your chicken off before you cook it in order to remove any potentially harmful bacteria.
HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!
For starters, washing your chicken will in no way remove bacteria and, in fact, will likely spread it even further in your kitchen. Secondly, this is the number one way to produce less than stellar chicken.
Think about it.
What’s the best part about a good piece of roasted chicken. Why of course….the CRISPY skin! And while science has never been my strong suit, even I can tell you that MOISTURE + HEAT = not crispy skin (I guess the actual scientific result would be steam but you get the idea).
To be honest, I don’t know where this concept of giving your chicken a pre-cook bath even came from but I’m hoping my little chicken bath PSA can help us all eat better chicken.
So what is the secret to crispy skin chicken? I’d say there are three:
Make sure it is dry! Before doing anything else to your chicken (before seasoning, before cooking), dry it off with a paper towel. Even if you used a brine (which does helps produce juicier chicken) this step is crucial to ensure there is no lingering moisture.
You need a VERY hot skillet. I love my cast iron for tasks like this. I can heat it up high and easily pop it into the oven to roast afterwards.
DO NOT TOUCH THE CHICKEN TOO SOON. You’re impatient, I get it. So am I. But lifting your chicken too soon from the pan when crisping the skin will get you nowhere fast. Trust me, trust the process, trust the chicken.
So with all that said, you might feel getting perfectly crispy chicken is an impossible feat but I kid you not, it’s actually incredibly easy and these Dijon Chicken Thighs with Olive Oil Poached Beets are the perfect way to test out your new knowledge.
This dish is like Autumn on a plate with beets that are lightly cooked in a citrus spiked olive oil mixture similar to that of marinated olives (my favorite). Along with perfectly cooked chicken thighs that have a slight hint of mustard, this will be a favorite to go back to time and time again.
A few other notes on this dish…
Great For: A Sunday night family dinner. While this dish isn’t very complicated, clocking in at an hour and 15 minutes cook time might mean it’s not ideal for a weeknight dinner. However, since chicken thighs are an incredibly budget friendly option and beets are abundant at the market this time of year, it’s perfect for a large group when you have a little extra time. Just remember to double (or triple!) the recipe.
Shortcuts: While beets are incredible easy to cook (the instructions for steaming are below but roasted beets also work well here), if you are short on time you can also use precooked, refrigerated beets - but NOT the canned kind :)
Try it with: while this dish goes great with a light red wine (think Pinot Noir) or a more full-bodied white like a Viognier, I think this dish is perfectly complemented with a slightly sweet yet still dry hard cider. Bring on all of the Fall flavors!
Dijon Chicken Thighs with Olive Oil Poached Beets
Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
For the Dijon Chicken Thighs
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
3 tablespoons light oil (such as avocado oil or olive oil)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
4 sprigs thyme
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
For the Olive Oil Poached Beets
1.5 pounds beets, scrubbed clean
1 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 strips of lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup toasted & chopped walnuts (optional)
To make the beets:
1. After scrubbing the beets well, place in the steamer basket on top of a medium saucepan filled with 2 inches of water. Place the lid on top of the steamer and bring the water to a low boil.
2. Let the beets cook for about 30-40 minutes or until they are fork tender yet not mushy. Remove and let cool slightly.
3. Using a clean dish towel (that you don’t mind getting stained red!) or a paper towel, rub the skin until it comes off the cooked beet. Continue doing this until all of the skins have been removed from the beets.
4. Slice off the ends of the beets (where the roots/stem were) and then dice into medium sized pieces. I like to cut some beets smaller than others to give a few different textures to the dish. Set the beets aside.
5. In a medium saucepan, add the 1 cup of olive oil, sliced shallots, smashed garlic cloves, orange zest and lemon peel. Heat on low heat until lightly simmering. Add the beets and let cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Season the beets with the salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley. Use a slotted spoon to place the beets on your plate and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts before serving.
To make the chicken thighs:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of oil, the dijon mustard and the honey. Preheat the oven to 425F.
2. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and season the chicken generously with the salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. Heat a large, oven-proof skillet (cast iron is best) over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot (it should shimmer!) add the chicken skin side down in the pan. Cook for 10 minutes without touching the chicken. NOTE: THIS IS CRITICAL! If you like crispy chicken skin (and who doesn’t?!) it’s important to let the skin cook in the pan without being disturbed. After 10 minutes, the chicken should easily release from the pan and be nice and crispy.
4. Turn the heat off and brush the bottom of the chicken with the dijon mixture. Flip the chicken over so that the skin is on top and continue to brush on the dijon sauce (be careful, the chicken is hot!).
5. Once all of the chicken is evenly coated, place a sprig of thyme on each of the chicken breasts and place the skillet in the preheated oven. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until a digital thermometer registers 165F in the thickest part of the meat. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
6. Serve with the warm beets and enjoy!