Not weeknight quick, but company worthy: Pan-roasted Chicken with Cranberries

by Terry B on December 6, 2017

The signature tartness of fresh cranberries turns pan-roasted chicken, potatoes, shallots and herbs into a complex, company-ready meal. Recipe below.

Pan-roasted Chicken with Cranberries

Somewhere in our stash of vintage advertising ephemera is a cardboard novelty sign that probably hung behind a bar somewhere in the fifties, or maybe the forties: “I’m not a slow bartender. I’m not a fast bartender. I’m a half fast bartender.” That pretty much describes my cooking style.

go-to-the-recipeAs I’ve said before, while I enjoy doing prep work, getting everything ready to cook a dish, I would never cut it in a professional kitchen. My approach is far too leisurely. But somehow, even knowing this about myself, I am perennially overly optimistic about how long a dish will take.

Fortunately for me, I have a wonderfully patient wife. This should have been a weekend dinner, started early, but that didn’t happen. Instead, after our work days on Monday, I made it into the kitchen to start cooking some time after seven. As eight o’clock rolled around, then 8:30, I heard not a peep about when dinner was going to happen. Still, I was glad that when we sat down to dinner around nine, we both decided it was worth the wait.

This dish wasn’t just good, it was “let’s make this for company” good. The signature tartness of the fresh cranberries, softened with brown sugar and deepened with balsamic vinegar, balanced the meaty, juicy savoriness of the chicken thighs browned with rosemary, thyme and garlic. And the potatoes, shallots and lemon all added their own flavor notes to everything.

A word about fresh cranberries: buy them now. As Epicurious tells us, they’re only sold fresh during the months ending in “er”—and they freeze beautifully (as in toss the bags of cranberries in the freezer, done).

Pan-roasted Chicken with Cranberries
Serves 4

1-1/2 cups fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, a generous 1/2 pound each
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 generous tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 generous tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 medium shallots, roughly chopped
4 small-to-medium Yukon gold potatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
2/3 cup dry white wine

Mix cranberries, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Trim excess fat from chicken thighs and rub all sides with some olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper, plus half of the rosemary, thyme and garlic, pressing it gently into the skin. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, oven-safe nonstick sauté pan or skillet over medium-high flame for at least 2 minute. Add chicken to pan, skin side down, and cook undisturbed until nicely browned, 5 minutes or more. Turn and brown on the other side for 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

You should have 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil and rendered chicken fat in the pan now. If you have too much, spoon some off—too little, add olive oil. Add potato wedges to pan, tossing to coat in oil-fat mixture and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 or 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and clear a space in the middle of the pan. Add shallots and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, tossing to mix with the potatoes. Clear another space and add the remaining rosemary, thyme and garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Toss everything together.

Add wine to the pan and cook until reduced by about half, about 3 minutes or so, stirring to scraped up any browned bits. Return the chicken to the pan, along with any accumulated juices. Add the cranberries to the pan, spooning them around the chicken. Drizzle the lemon juice around the chicken.

Transfer pan to oven and roast for 20 to 25 minutes. Potatoes should be tender (but with a slight crust), and chicken should be cooked through to an internal temperature of at least 160ºF. remove pan from oven and let the dish rest for about 5 minutes. Plate and serve.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

John/Kitchen Riffs December 6, 2017 at 8:27 am

Pretty dish! Love the way the cranberries look in this. And thanks for the reminder to buy and freeze some — you’re right, this is the only time of year they’re in the stores.

Dani H December 6, 2017 at 8:18 pm

Thanks for the reminder to stock up on the cranberries. I unhappily settle for canned cranberry sauce too often because I always want cranberries with roast chicken. It never occurred to me to add them to the chicken. Can’t wait to try this!

Marion December 7, 2017 at 10:10 pm

In the interest of fairness, I wasn’t being saintly and patient, I was napping.

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