Crispy Chicken Thighs with Creamy Balsamic-Garlic Sauce
Sighs for the thighs
Do you have a plan for dinner each evening?
Do you wake up in the morning knowing that you will remove a package of "X" from the freezer, or purchase "A, B, or C" at the grocery store? I usually have a plan--a plan that takes into consideration items in the pantry or freezer, leftovers in the refrigerator, or what is on sale today at the grocers or produce stand. I like to have a plan, to have things neat, tidy, and well-ordered. In a glass half-full or half-empty sort of world I am either (a) well-organized and thoughtful, or (b) I lack spontaneity.
My dear husband is a bit more of a free spirit--a drive-with-the-top-down sort of guy. Me? I'm a worrier, a thinker, a planner. Typically my left brain budget analyst overcomes my right-brain artist.
But today was different. Today I allowed my right-brain to come to the forefront and the result was...well, I'll let you decide.
It all began with a half-jar of Alfredo sauce. That such a thing was existing in my refrigerator without a plan is in itself a bit of a miracle which can only be explained away by a traffic jam of Herculean proportions late last week which did not allow me to proceed with dinner-as-planned.
What kind brand of Alfredo sauce doesn't matter. What is important is that I didn't cook a pot of pasta. (No fettuccine were harmed in the production of this meal)
I served our chicken and sauce over garlic mashed potatoes, but you could use noodles or rice if you prefer.
By the way, Mr. "drive-with-the-top-down" really liked this--enough to make comment (he usually doesn't) so I'm thinking this was a successful journey from my left-brain norm.
- 4 bone-in chicken thighs, large
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons cooking sherry, (see note below for non-alcohol substitutes)
- 1/3 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoons minced garlic, (less of you're not a garlic lover)
- 1/2 jar alfredo sauce, about 1 cup
- Remove the skin and excess fat from the chicken thighs. Place the thighs in a large (freezer-size) zip-lock bag. Pour in the balsamic vinegar, seal, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours before serving. (Note: it helps to squish the bag a bit to distribute the vinegar over all of the chicken pieces).
- When ready to begin cooking heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Next, heat a large oven-safe sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Remove the chicken thighs from the zip-lock bag--discard the bag and balsamic vinegar.
- Dredge the chicken in the flour, shake off the excess, and place in the sauté pan. Cook about 3 minutes per side or until well-browned. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F.
- Remove the chicken to a platter and return the sauté pan to your stovetop. (Careful--that handle is super-hot!).
- Using medium-high heat, add cooking sherry to the pan and stir to deglaze (that means that you are using a liquid to un-stick all of those wonderful flavor bits at the bottom of the pan). This should take just a few seconds. Add the chicken broth and minced garlic and then bring down the heat to low.
- Stir in the Alfredo sauce and then return the cooked chicken to the pan. Simmer for a few minutes (2 or 3) so that the chicken soaks up a bit of the flavors in the sauce. That's it.
What makes this recipe work?
- Marinating the chicken in balsamic allows the sweet/savory flavor of the vinegar to permeate the meat.
- A light dusting of flour helps to seal in the juices. AND, it also helps to create those roasty little bits that cling to the bottom of the pan . In French cooking this is called "fond".
- Sherry unglues the "fond" from the bottom of the pan. With a gentle application of heat the fond then melts and introduces huge amounts of complex flavors into the sauce.
What If You Don't Want to Use Sherry?
- Apple cider
- One tablespoon apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon water
- One Balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp. lemon juice, 2 tsp. water