Recipe: Crusty Chicken Thighs with Mushroom Sauce

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Thighs are the part of the chicken that I enjoy most. When I cook them in stews or with a sauce, I remove the skin because when it is cooked with moisture, it gets rubbery and releases all its fat into the sauce.

In this recipe, I cook the thighs in a skillet skin side down, so the skin becomes crisp, dry, and beautifully browned. Make sure to use a nonstick skillet with a tight-fitting lid, so as the skin fries, the flesh is cooked by the steam. The portions are relatively small here, but within the context of a menu this is enough meat.

4 servings

Arrange the chicken thighs skin side down on a cutting board. Using a sharp paring knife, trim off any excess skin at the edges and cut about 1/2 inch deep into the flesh on either side of the thigh bone. (This will help the meat cook more quickly.) Sprinkle the thighs with 1/2 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper and arrange them skin side down in one layer in a nonstick skillet with a tight-fitting lid.

Place the skillet over high heat and when the thighs start sizzling reduce the heat to medium, cover tightly, and cook for 16 to 18 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure the chicken is browning properly. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150 degrees. If the chicken seems to be cooking too fast after 10 minutes or so, reduce the heat to low. The skin of the chicken should be very crisp and brown. Transfer the chicken skin side up to an ovenproof platter and place it in the oven.

Discard all but 2 tablespoons fat from the skillet in which you cooked the chicken. Add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms and sauté them over high heat for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on the mushrooms and then add the wine and any liquid that has accumulated around the thighs on the platter. Cook the sauce over high heat for about 1 minute to reduce the liquid.

To serve, divide the sauce among four hot plates. Place a thigh in the middle of the mushroom sauce on each plate, spoon some sauce over, sprinkle on the chives, and serve.

Episode 210: Brussels Sprout Love

If left on a desert island, Jacques thinks he'd be quite happy as long as he had some chickens! For Jacques, the prize part of the chicken is the thigh, and he thinks you'll agree when you try Crusty Chicken Thighs with Mushroom Sauce, served with a tasty Fricassee of Brussels Sprouts and Bacon. An inspired use of instant potato flakes to thicken a soup shows up in the fast-cooking Seafood Chowder topped with fresh crabmeat. To end on a relaxing note, Jacques arranges a presentation of Stilton with Apple and Nuts to accompany a delicious glass of vintage or aged tawny Port.

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Minute Recipe: Cured Salmon Morsels

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Gravlax is one of my favorite hors d'oeuvres, and I usually present it on buttered bread or cucumber slices. One day when I was slicing salmon, I decided to cut some of it into small cubes, quickly cure them, and serve them on toothpicks. These only take a minute to prepare. The fresher the salmon, the more outstanding the finished morsels.

Cut about 8 ounces cleaned salmon into 1-inch cubes. Sprinkle with about 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Toss the cubes together in a small bowl and let cure for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop some fresh herbs (chives, tarragon, and parsley). Toss the salmon pieces with the herbs to coat them well and arrange them on a serving plate. Stick a toothpick in each cube. Sprinkle with the best extra-virgin olive oil and serve.

Makes about 30 pieces