But there's one master recipe that both Xani and I have been making in our respective cast iron skillets. We're calling it Cast Iron Chicken, where chicken is seared and then roasted on a bed of veggies that are in turn seasoned with chicken fat and drippings. Xani pioneered the recipe and should get the majority of the creative credit for this one. We make this recipe over and over in our homes because it's infinitely modifiable and it's SO good. We felt we had to share the Master Recipe with you, Dear Reader.
Here's the blueprint of this master recipe:
- Chicken legs and/or thighs (skin on; with bone or deboned - deboning will give you a chance to work on your butchery skills!)
- Roast-able veggie (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, red or green cabbage, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, carrots, parsnips), prepped (broccoli/cauliflower into florets; cabbage shredded; potatoes/sweet potatoes/carrots/parsnips into chunks or batons and par-cooked)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Dry chicken pieces thoroughly with paper towels
- Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper and any other flavors you like (see note below)
- Heat about 1 TB olive oil and 1 TB butter in cast iron skillet over high heat until almost smoking
- Sear chicken pieces skin side down for 5 minutes until golden brown (and pieces release easily from pan)
- Flip chicken pieces and sear 2-3 minutes on non-skin side
- Remove chicken and set aside
- Pour off all but 1-2 TB of fat in pan (olive oil + chicken fat rendered out = YUM)
- Toss in prepped veggies, season with salt and pepper, stir to coat in fat/drippings and cook for 1-2 min on stovetop
- Place chicken pieces atop veggies
- Place skillet with chicken and veggies into oven and bake for 30-40 min (if the chicken has bones, it will take longer than boneless)
- Let chicken rest for 5 min before plating and serving
The key is to roast the veggies until softened but not to overcook the chicken. That's why the chicken only cooks for a few minutes on the stove top. I like to roast the sh*t out of my veggies (typically broccoli and cabbage) so I check throughout the cooking time to make sure they are softening and caramelizing appropriately.
Regarding seasoning, this is a great opportunity to try out flavor "themes." Want Mediterranean? Season the chicken with lemon, garlic, oregano and serve over potatoes. Want an Eastern European/Jewish variety? Season chicken with paprika and garlic and serve over cabbage seasoned with caraway. Once I added an Italian flare by squeezing a lemon and grating some parm over the chicken and broccoli. Another time I had some harissa leftover from another recipe so I rubbed that on the chicken before searing, which gave it a nice kick. And so on and so forth.
Here are some iterations that have come out of our kitchens:
|Chicken thighs with potatoes and cauliflower|
|Chicken thighs (deboned) with broccoli (parm and lemon added at the end)|
|Chicken thighs over shredded red cabbage seasoned with hot pepper flakes|
So grab your skillet and get cookin!
* The skillet was my grandparents'. I inherited it after our Grandfather passed away in January. I love the fact that they cooked with it for who knows how many years. I love feeling connected to them through cookware. Very special, indeed.