Julia Child said that in France the chicken tasted more chickeny. I like to think that she was talking about this dish.
The problem with a lot of chicken dishes is that they really don’t taste like much. How many times have I had a grilled chicken breast or chicken caesar salad that didn’t really taste like much of anything? And yet chicken is the most popular form of protein in the United States.
When I first made this recipe, it was refreshing to find a chicken recipe that actually tasted like, you know, chicken. It quickly became one of my wife’s favorite meals.
And, it’s not only good, it’s also pretty easy. It takes about 45 minutes including preparation time. It’s even faster if you quarter the chicken the night before (or as soon as you get it home from the store). It’s easiest enough for a weeknight but tastes good enough for a special occasion. I’ve even made it when visiting family on the other side of the country.
The dish is decent with a mass produced whole chicken but even better with an all-natural or organic bird. This is the dish that made me switch my change my chicken buying habits.
When I quarter my chicken, I don’t use the wings (we never eat them). I also bone and skin the chicken breasts (Angela prefers them that way). If the breast halves are large, I cut them in half again. I usually save the chicken carcass for making stock later on.
The pan sauce made is really for topping the chicken. In our household, we usually dip bread into it. Usually I serve this with a potato gratin and green beans or peas. A light white wine also goes well. Last night, we had a Lucas & Lewellen Chardonnay (it wasn’t overly oaked or buttery so it worked well with this dish).
Poulet Sauté aux Herbes (Sautéed Chicken with Herbs)
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
1 3-4 lbs. chicken, quartered
4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp shallots, minced
1 cup chicken stock
- Preferably the night before, salt the chicken on both sides and refrigerate until the next day (if not salting the night before, salt immediately before cooking).
- Dry the chicken with paper towels thoroughly. Heat 2 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken in the skillet on both sides, in batches if necessary. Remove the chicken to a plate and reduce the heat to medium.
- Sprinkle the herbs on each side of the chicken. Season the chicken with pepper.
- Add the dark meat (thigh and leg) pieces back into the skillet and cover. Cook over medium heat for 8 minutes.
- Turn the dark meat chicken and add the remaining chicken to the skillet. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, turning once.
- Remove the chicken from the skillet and cover with aluminum foil. Add the shallots to the skillet and cook until softened, about 1 minute.
- Add the chicken stock and increase the heat to high. Boil the sauce until its slightly reduced, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the remaining butter.
- Serve the chicken with the pan sauce.
Serves 4 to 5.