Jacques Pepin’s Crusty Chicken Thighs with Mushroom Sauce

Chicken, French, Gluten-Free, Main Courses / Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get away from my sister, y’all.  – Rebecca

By Jennifer Rather.

When you’re feeding a family of six, you’ve always got at least one bone-in, skin-on, value pack of chicken thighs in the fridge. This leads to a lot of “what the hell can I do with these chicken thighs?” Googling.

During one of my latest thigh-Googling expeditions, I found Jacques Pépin’s Crusty Chicken Thighs recipe, and I will unequivocally state, this is the EASIEST chicken recipe ever.

No oil. No butter. No random spices or overnight marinades.

You just season some chicken thighs, and place them in a cold heavy skillet. Then, crank up the heat high as hell, and when the thighs start sizzling, turn down the heat, slap on a lid, and come back in 20 minutes to gaze upon your skillet full of  juicy thighs encrusted in crispy, golden-brown skin.

It’s smack-ya-momma good.

Best of all, my entire tribe asks for this weekly, which makes it my new All-Time Favorite recipe.

I usually just make the chicken and use the fat left in the skillet to make gravy, but I can testify that the sauce (a chunky mix of chopped mushrooms, onion and garlic) is good, and – here’s the spiritual part – it’s made in the same skillet.


Crusty Chicken Thighs with Mushroom Sauce

Slightly adapted from Jacques Pépin’s “Jacques Pépin: More Fast Food My Way”

Makes 4 servings

  • 4 large chicken thighs (about 1 3/4 pounds total), skin on
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
    Mushroom Sauce:

  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 3 cups white mushrooms, washed and diced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped
  1. Set the chicken thighs skin-side down on a cutting board. Cut a 1/2-inch thick slash on either side of the thigh bone. Season the thighs on both sides with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  2. Place the chicken skin-side down in a cold non-stick skillet with a tight-fitting lid. (Cast iron works beautifully).
  3. Turn the heat to high. When the chicken starts to sizzle, turn heat to medium and move the thighs around to make sure they aren’t sticking to the skillet. Cover the skillet, and cook for about 20 minutes, until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F. (Check occasionally to make sure the skin isn’t browning too much. If it’s cooking too fast, turn the heat to low.)
  4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150 degrees F.
  5. When the chicken is done, transfer the thighs (skin-side up) to an ovenproof platter, and keep them warm in the oven.
  6. To Make the Sauce: Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of chicken fat from the skillet. Add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms, and sauté them over high heat for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining salt and pepper over the mushroom. Then pour in the wine. Cook for 1 minute over high heat to reduce the sauce.
  7. To serve, spoon some of the mushroom sauce onto four plates. Place a thigh in the middle of the sauce, spoon some sauce over, and sprinkle on the chives.

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