Cast Iron Oven-Seared Chicken Breasts with Leek and Tarragon Pan Sauce
Why This Recipe Works
Bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts are more flavorful than boneless, skinless breasts, but getting the skin to crisp without overcooking the delicate meat can be a challenge. We developed a streamlined method that starts by preheating a cast-iron skillet in a very hot oven, then dropping the oven temperature and adding the chicken to both sear the skin and roast the breasts at the same time. The trick was to start the breasts skin side down. This allowed the heat of the skillet and the heat from the oven to crisp the skin while the weight of the breast pressed down on it. The result was ultracrisp skin on a perfectly moist chicken breast. While the chicken rested, we made a quick pan sauce that captured all the tasty browned bits the meat left behind. We started by sweating a leek, then added some flour to help thicken the sauce. Next we poured in savory chicken broth and flavorful vermouth, which we then reduced for a thicker consistency. Fresh tarragon, whole-grain mustard, and a little butter gave our sauce a distinctive flavor identity and richness.