Pan roasted perfection
photography by athena calderone
I would say it’s safe to assume that I would never order chicken at a restaurant. In no way is this snobbery, it’s just that chicken is not what I choose when I want to indulge. When I eat out I want to try something more adventurous than the protein I grew up eating weekly. Of course that was until I savored over the pan-roasted chicken at Vinegar Hill House. With absolute certitude I am declaring their dish the holy grail of chicken. To say it’s moist and flavorful would be an understatement. I kid you not this is the yummiest bird you will ever feast on. The caramelized shallots and abundantly rich jus elevate the fresh from the oven, sizzling pan to heavenly heights. I’ve been made a believer and I’ll never leave Vinegar Hill without someone at my table ordering this dish.
A few months ago my boys asked that I recreate a version of this adored chicken and so I took the challenge. I loosely followed a variety or recipes I found online and added and subtracted a thing or two here and there. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but holy yummers it was swoony! I had just returned from a visit to my friend Laura Ferarra’s farm, Westwind Orchard, and had some of her homemade apple cider vinegar, which I used to deglaze the pan. Combined with the pan drippings and silky butter, the vinegar took the recipe to a whole new level, adding a tangy pungent kick that made my boys super happy! The way the tart vinegar mingles with the pan-drippings is beyond delicious.
If I can convince you of one tool you need for your kitchen, it’s a cast-iron pan. The greatest tool any cook can own, it transitions from stovetop to oven with ease and is perfect for pan-roasting any kind of protein. The chicken retains all its moisture because of this technique, making it hands-down the most effective way to cook a piece of protein. The finished bird is absolutely bursting with juice and encased in a crunchy golden skin that’s delightfully crispy. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s drowning in a jus that’s light, tart and ever so slightly sweet. And don’t even get me started on the melt in your mouth shallots! They turned my 11 year old into a shallow fanatic in one night and now he won’t take a bite of his mama’s chicken without those sweet little morsels also on his fork.
This has 100% become a staple weekly meal in our house and it can honestly come together in about an hour from unpacking groceries to sitting down at the table. I promise you this one really needs to be added to everyone’s repertoire. Swoon-approved!