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One-Pan Chicken and Vegetables

The savory elixir left behind after roasting chicken is pure gold. We put it to use.
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Published Dec. 5, 2018.

Goals and Discoveries

Well-rendered chicken skin

We place the chicken skin side down in a cold skillet and turn on the heat. As the pan slowly warms up, the fat is rendered from the skin without overcooking the delicate white meat just beneath it.

Tender, juicy chicken breasts

We flip the breasts bone side down to elevate the meat off the hot pan, which prevents overcooking. We then roast the breasts at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.

Flavor the vegetable with fond

We cook aromatics and seasonings in the hot fat and add then a little water and the vegetable. We steam the vegetable, then remove the lid to let the liquid reduce to coat the vegetable.

When you roast bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts in a skillet, fat renders from the skin, juices seep from the flesh, and bits of meat stick to the pan. These tidbits crackle and brown, creating a concentrated, chicken-y infusion. Tradition dictates that you use these drippings to whip up a pan sauce. But that's wasting an opportunity to make a one-pan meal. Why not cook a vegetable in them to create a rich, savory side? Add crusty bread and a bottle of wine and you're done—with just one pan to wash.

I started by peeling back the chicken skin so I could season the flesh with salt; I then repositioned the skin. To ensure that the skin would end up fully rendered, I wanted to kick-start that process by searing the chicken on the stove before transferring it to the oven. I turned to a technique we've used successfully in the past: I placed the chicken skin side down in a cold skillet and then turned on the burner. This cold-start method allows fat to be rendered gently with little risk of overcooking the meat just below the surface. By the time the pan gets hot, the skin is well-rendered, thin, flat, and ready to crisp and brown.

I also spritzed the skin with vegetable oil spray to keep it from sticking and pierced it with a skewer to encourage the fat to escape. Once the skin was well browned, I flipped the breasts and transferred the skillet to a 325-degree oven. After 30 minutes, the breasts were perfectly cooked, the skin was crisp, and the drippings were plentiful.

I had a couple of requirements for the vegetable. First, it had to come together in the 10 minutes that the chicken needed to rest. Second, it had to showcase the deeply savory juices, fond, and fat. I decided on easy-prep, quick-cooking green beans—they have plenty of surface area for the drippings to cling to.

But the drippings alone wouldn't be enough to flavor the beans; I also needed aromatics and seasonings. Sliced garlic and red pepper flakes were a natural fit. I added both to the pan, cranked up the heat, and scraped up the fond. When the garlic and pepper flakes started to sizzle, that was my cue that all the moisture had evaporated and the ingredients were blooming and releasing flavor into the chicken fat.

Flavoring the Vegetables

After our chicken breasts are finished roasting, the skillet is full of goodness: fond (browned proteins), rendered fat, and savory juices. Instead of taking the usual approach—pouring off some of the fat and making a pan sauce with what remains—we use it all as the base for a rich, complementary vegetable side dish.

I added the beans along with ⅓ cup of water and covered the pan so they could steam. After 8 minutes or so, I removed the lid and continued simmering just long enough to reduce the liquid to coat the beans, which were now infused with the essence of chicken.

I transferred the beans to a platter and showered them with Parmesan cheese before placing the juicy, crispy-skinned chicken on top. Dinner was served.

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