Friday, February 21st, 2014

Roasted Chicken with Pancetta, Rosemary & Garlic

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I was thumbing through one of my cookbooks written by a restaurant chef and noticed there wasn’t one recipe for chicken. I wasn’t that surprised since chicken isn’t considered very glamorous by most chefs. When you mull over the competition—Alaskan black cod, baby octopus, Santa Barbara spot prawns or quail, just to name a few—the humble chicken doesn’t stand much of a chance.

But let’s be real, most Americans cook a lot of chicken at home  and save those dishes made with hard-to-find, hard-to-work-with ingredients for rare occasions or dining out. (I know I do.) Well, I’m here to tell you there’s no reason why chicken can’t get a little chef-like treatment every now and then.

Combining chicken with pancetta (the gamy Italian cousin of bacon), rosemary, lemon, garlic, wine and butter is definitely a good start on raising the bar, but it’s really only half the battle.  The serious chef treatment shows up in the technique in this recipe. I’ll walk you through the execution (don’t be afraid, I promise it’s not that bad):IMG_4838

Use the right pan. A heavy bottom pan is a must for this recipe, otherwise you’ll end up with burnt chicken and burnt sauce.

Take your time. What you’re aiming for is to melt the fat slowly (the technical term is rendering). So, as you cook the pancetta it will become beautifully crisp and the flavorful pork fat will be left behind in the pan. The chicken pieces then get the same treatment (albeit at a higher temperature) to render the fat from under the skin and produce the super crispy skin that makes this dish such a standout.

Three’s not a crowd. This recipe calls for three pounds of chicken parts. No worries if the chicken parts fill up the pan…in this case, its actually a good thing.

Use your senses. Be mindful as you cook the chicken because you can’t be a wimp about cranking up the heat. The temperature of the skillet needs to be high enough for you to hear some sizzle, see some fat splatter (someone else can clean-up later) and smell a bit of smoke (turn on the fan or open a window).

Stove tip. Every stove is different—on my stove medium-high heat does the trick. On your stove it may need to be full-on high. On the other hand, you don’t want the chicken or the browned bits on the bottom of the pan to burn. (Get what I mean’t about being mindful?…Namaste.)

Be fond of the fond. All the beautiful browned bits of chicken skin on the bottom of the pan (the technical term is fond) are the flavor base of the sauce. The liquid added to the pan (in this case white wine and chicken stock) will loosen the bits and incorporate all their delicious goodness.

It’s better with butter. A well-balanced, full-flavored and complex pan sauce begins with the fond and ends with some butter. In many restaurants one small serving of a dish like this might be made with two tablespoons of butter. (Yes, that’s right). This recipe calls for a total of only three tablespoons of butter for four portions. (Hmm. Not so bad.) When adding the butter, stir it in quickly and make sure it melts enough to be incorporated into the base but doesn’t get so hot that it begins to separate.

Chicken for dinner isn’t always met with major enthusiasm by my boys. I get comments like “oh, no… not chicken again” or “maybe we should go out for dinner tonight”. This roasted chicken had my minions singing a different tune. When you wield your chef skills, the super crispy skinned chicken sauced with the pancetta, tangy lemon, garlic and rosemary is anything but ordinary. In fact, it elevates the every-day, home-cooked chicken dinner into a meal fit for a king…or a chef…maybe even a kid.

 

 

Roasted Chicken with Pancetta, Rosemary & Garlic

Yield: 4

A whole 31/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, can be used instead of the chicken parts (saving the wings and backs for stock). Halve the breasts crosswise and separate leg quarters into thighs and drumsticks.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds bone-in chicken parts, breasts, thighs, and drumsticks or a mix with breasts cut in half, trimmed (see note)
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 ounces sliced pancetta, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into three pieces

Instructions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 450°F.
  2. Pat chicken pieces dry with paper towel and season well with salt and pepper. Heat oil and pancetta together in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir pancetta frequently and cook until fat is rendered and pancetta is crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove pancetta with slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towel.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high and place chicken in skillet, skin-side down and cook until skin is well browned and crispy. Cook thighs and breasts skin side down for the majority of the cooking time, 7 to 8 minutes, then turn skin side up for a quick sear on the flesh side, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the legs more frequently to get even browning on all sides, total cooking time10 minutes.
  4. Transfer browned chicken pieces to a baking dish and roast in oven until the thickest part of breast registers about 160°F and thickest part of thighs and drumsticks register about 175°, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let chicken sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, turn heat off skillet for a few minutes to cool. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan. Once the skillet has cooled, add garlic, rosemary and red pepper flakes and cook slowly, on medium heat, stirring continuously until the garlic is crisp, about 2 minutes. Add wine to skillet and increase heat to medium-high, scraping up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon and simmer until wine is reduced to a syrupy consistency, about 3 minutes. Add broth and simmer until slightly thickened and measures about 1/3 cup, about 8 minutes.
  6. Off the heat, add lemon juice and whisk in butter pieces. Season with salt and pepper and pour sauce over cooked chicken. Scatter pancetta on top and serve.
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Leah Barcan
February 21st, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Hi Eva, I am Sara Barcan’s sister-in-law and a good friend of Noreen’s (I once had your son over along with Nathan). Love your blog and am really looking forward to making this!

Diane
February 21st, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Thanks, Eva. Looks like Sunday night dinner is solved. May add the nutmeg cake! Yum.

Eva
February 21st, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Thanks Leah for checking out my blog. I hope that you like the chicken. We have another connection as well, my good friend Audrey’s son Nick, worked for your husband a couple of summers ago.

Lynne Anderson
February 21st, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Sounds delicious, Eva. I’m definitely going to try it. Great photos.

roz katz
February 23rd, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Sounds great, Eva. Is there any substitute for the pancetta? Or is that critical for the flavor?

Anna
February 25th, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Lokos, like your blog is relatively new, but so far i’m absolutely LOVING it. Bravo! And yes….i WILL be making this. Sounds delish, simple, yet très classy. Thanks!

Anna
February 25th, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Whoops, keyboard got away on me there!

Eva
February 25th, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Thanks Anna for checking out the blog!

Danielle
February 25th, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Remind me not to look at foodporn–or your blog–when I’m hungry! I can taste that now, and I still have to drive home to make dinner. Oh, woe!

Jamie
February 26th, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Just made this last night paired with a french onion soup! Huge hit! Absolutely delicious. The only thing I changed…I added a tablespoon or two of flour to the finished sauce and put it back on the heat and whisked for a few minutes to thicken it a bit. It turned out great! Thanks for the recipe!

Eva
February 26th, 2014 at 4:50 pm

That’s great Jamie – glad you liked it! I love getting feedback so keep it coming!

Mandy @ lady and pups
March 24th, 2014 at 10:58 am

Oh those browned chicken skin looks absolutely scrumptious!

Stephanie
April 8th, 2014 at 6:33 pm

This recipe was amazing. My family loved it. Thanks.

Eva
April 8th, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Stephanie – Thanks. so glad it worked out for you.

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