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Related Ingredients
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Tasting Notes

This dish doesn’t call for a lot of ingredients, but those involved each play an important role.

Pepper gives it heat, the herbs and salt add a burst of flavor and browned butter caramelizes the skin and adds nutty sweetness. Butter also provides the fat to meld the flavors together.

Tips & Techniques

  1. Air-dry raw chicken before cooking. The key to crispy skin is to air-dry the raw chicken, skin-side up, uncovered in the refrigerator for at least three hours, but ideally overnight. This will dry out the skin, removing any moisture that might otherwise steam in the pan. If you are trying a separate poultry recipe that calls for brining, air-dry the bird post brine.
  2. The perfect sear. It happens to the best of us – even seasoned chefs. The pan isn’t hot enough and meat glues to it. For the perfect sear, you first need to get your pan nice and hot. Then pour in just enough oil to coat the bottom. We want to make sure that the chicken is not too greasy. When the oil shimmers, makes waves or starts to smoke slightly, it’s ready to go. If you wait too long, the oil will start to smoke vigorously – which is no good for you or the bird. Don’t move the meat before the sear is complete. Browning helps food detach from the pan and avoid sticking, which helps save the chicken’s crispy skin that will be the hit of the dish.
  3. Baste for maximum flavor. How do restaurant chefs make a typically bland piece of chicken breast taste so good? Brining is one way to add flavor, but there’s an easier way – basting! Basting helps brown the chicken and flavor it with beurre noisette (browned butter), spices, and herbs. Slow-cooking chicken makes its exterior extremely crispy, which will nicely compliment the softer texture of the smashed potatoes. Furthermore, butter-basting imparts a full fat flavor on the chicken. The chicken’s richness should be balanced out by counteracting flavors and in this particular recipe, the spiciness of the arugula and the sweetness of the fennel will cut through the fat to create a balanced dish.
  4. Let the chicken rest to keep it juicy. All meat has to rest before you cut into it. The heat from cooking presses on the meat and it’s that pressure that will send the juices surging out if you cut into it before it settles. Let the meat relax a few minutes, then cut.

Toolbox

These tools are the ones we find especially helpful when making this dish.

  1. Basting spoon. A basting spoon is designed to make basting safe and easy. It’s main characteristic is a long handle – at least twelve inches – to protect you from hot liquids. Basting spoons are made of heat-resistant materials, like stainless steel. In a pinch, any heat-resistant spoon will do.
  2. Skillet. For this searing followed by roasting technique, a heavy skillet that conducts heat quickly and evenly will yield the best results. We recommend a high-quality stainless steel, oven-proof frying pan or cast-iron skillet. Make sure your pan is large enough so that the seared items aren’t crowded. If they’re too close together, they will steam instead of brown.
The list below includes all the equipment you’ll want to make this dish.

Plate

Sauté pan or skillet

Tongs

Large spoon to baste

Baking sheet with rack

Paper towel


Ingredients
  • 4 Airline (French-cut) chicken breasts, skin-on, air-dried
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Grapeseed or canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon fennel pollen or fennel seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 sprigs thyme

Serves: 4

Total time: 35 minutes

Active time: 20 minutes

Method
  1. Place chicken breasts skin-side up on plate and leave in refrigerator overnight to air-dry.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  3. Heat 1 or 2 ovenproof sauté pans over high heat. Season chickens all over with salt and pepper. Add enough oil to each pan to just coat the bottom with 1/16 of an inch. When the oil is hot, lower the heat to medium and add chicken breasts skin-side down to the pan, making sure not to move or crowd them.
  4. When the skin turns golden brown and releases easily from the pan (after about 2 to 3 minutes), transfer them to the oven.
  5. Cook until opaque around the edges, about 10 to 15 minutes. The chicken should be approximately ¾ of the way cooked (butter-basting will cook the chicken the rest of the way).
  6. One at a time, set the pans back on the stove over medium-high heat. Flip the chickens and add butter to the pan. When the butter is hot and foamy, add the garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, fennel pollen (or seeds), and baste the chicken breasts until they are cooked. They will spring back slightly when you press on the flesh.
  7. Remove the breasts from the pan and place chicken breasts on a rack over a baking sheet. Pour remaining pan juice over chicken breasts. Let rest 3 to 4 minutes before serving. When ready to serve, slice chicken on paper towel on a cutting board so that the juice does not escape.

Here is a great way to turn this dish into a meal

Chicken linguini with marsala wine & pecorino

For a perfect chicken pasta, sauté mushrooms and onions together then deglze with marsala wine. Finish with pecorino and serve with linguini.

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