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Food Eyeswoon Kitchen:

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!

Pan Roasted Chicken

Eyeswoon adapted from Vinegar Hill House


  • 10 shallots, peeled–2 sliced and 8 whole
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 Chicken breasts – skin on & bone in
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 6 cups chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 fresh thyme sprigs, divided
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 4 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar

The Prep

1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F.

2. To make the jus, combine the sliced shallots and onion with the olive oil and sauté until all the ingredients are browned. Add the wine and cook until it is reduced by three quarters. Add the stock, bay leaf and a few sprigs of thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes. You can strain the jus through a fine-mesh strainer but I choose to leave the jus in its rustic, chunky form.

3. Place the 8 whole shallots in an 8-by-8-inch baking pan. Season with salt and pepper, add 2 tablespoons of the butter and pour in 1/8 cup water. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for 20 minutes. Uncover and roast for 15 minutes longer or until the shallots are tender and golden.

4. To roast the chicken, place two 9-inch seasoned cast iron skillets in the oven for 15 minutes. Season the

chickens generously on both sides with salt and pepper. When the skillets are hot, carefully remove them from the oven and add 2 teaspoons of the vegetable oil to each skillet. Place 2 chicken halves in each skillet, skin side down. Roast for about 30 minutes, checking often, until the juices from the thigh run clear.

5. Remove the skillets from the oven and pour off any fat. Turn the chicken halves over, skin side up, and deglaze each pan with ¼ cup of the apple cider vinegar, scraping the bottom to release any browned bits. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter, ¼ cup of the reserved chicken jus and 4 shallots to each pan. Return to the oven and roast for 3 minutes.

6. To serve, place a chicken half, 2 shallots and a bit of the pan sauce on each plate. Garnish with the remaining thyme sprigs.

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