another quick weeknight dinner! i’m excited about this because i get to tell you guys about my favourite, perfect way of cooking chicken. last thanksgiving was the first time i was hosting in my own apartment. i had recently moved in and gotten settled and wanted to have a big, family thanksgiving party since i wasn’t going home for the weekend. i really wanted to make the perfect turkey for everyone, so i read and read and read a million turkey recipes and articles about technique in the week leading up to the party. i read about brining, which i was too scared to try at the time, but am planning on doing soon; i read about temperatures and pan sizes and how to properly season the bird and about how often you should baste. i stumbled across this article that explained that you should cover the bird in roasting pan tightly with tinfoil and don’t open to baste until it’s almost done cooking. this lets the steam that forms to cook the bird which keeps it super moist. it was like a lightbulb went off in my head – this makes SO much sense! the moisture from the steam slowly cooks the bird and soaks into the meat, and the less you uncover the pan, the more moisture stays in and thus creates juicy meat. so, i tried this method and sure enough, it was the best turkey ever. and i know that’s a bold statement, but it really was. so i’ve used this method every time i’ve cooked a bird since, and every time it turns out perfectly. (and after the turkey coma passed, the thanksgiving party got pretty great too).
this time since i was just using chicken thighs, i seared the tops first, which helps seal in more of the juices. i spiced it generously and threw in some onions, garlic and lemon since that’s what i had on hand. you could really throw anything into the pan – root vegetables in the fall, or i would like to try some fennel next time. this is the beauty of a cast iron pan at it’s finest. you can sear the meat and then pop it in the oven which makes for super easy clean up, and the cast iron caramelizes anything you put in with the chicken.
you don’t even really need a recipe, since anything goes here. it’s mostly the cooking method that is important. the chicken fell off the bone and didn’t need any sauce to accompany it.
Cast Iron Chicken
2 chicken breasts or thighs, bone in
1/2 medium onion, quartered
2 peeled cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
fresh salt and pepper, and seasonings of your choice – i used cumin and cayenne, about a teaspoon of each
1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Remove chicken breasts from fridge and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper and other dried herbs of your choice. Let chicken sit for about 15 minutes.
3. While chicken is coming to room temperature, chop vegetables, garlic and lemons.
4. Heat a cast iron pan on high heat with a tablespoon of your choice of oil – I used olive in this case because I wanted to stay pretty healthy.
5. When the oil is shimmering, add chicken breasts skin side down, and sear for about 3 minutes. Don’t touch them! You want them to develop a nice crust.
6. Flip chicken pieces over in the pan and cover tightly with tinfoil, gently tenting it. Put the pan in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. Meat with the bone in generally takes a bit longer than without. This is a great guide: chicken school. Remove foil and turn oven temperature to 475 and cook for another 10 minutes.
7. I love really crispy skin, so I put it on broil for an additional 5 minutes or so after. I also mixed together my favourite hot sauce and some maple syrup and brushed it on top before broiling.
this is a great weeknight meal – there’s barely any prep, and while the chicken is in the oven you can make a salad to go with it, and do the minimal clean up. the onions caramelize beautifully in the pan – i couldn’t stop eating the slightly burnt ones.