Crispy Chicken with Winter Greens and Bacon

by Rosemary King in ,

It's Winter. January has been interminable and my next surf trip (followed closely another surf trip) isn't until the end of Feb.  What's a girl to do?  Obviously make copious pots of steamy, satisfying dishes that she can shovel into her mouth.   

This chicken dish follows a lot of my 2015 cooking themes.  One pot dish. Check. Use of cabbage and bacon.  Check. Crispy skin but tender, moist meat. Check.   You also can feel good because cabbage and kale are really good for you, but also feel really good that you're eating bacon, because, bacon. 

Really really, the key to this recipe is getting a great and crispy sear on the chicken thigh skins.  So I recommend the following: bring the thighs to room temperature. Salt them 30 minutes before you sear them.  Bring the pan to a smoking hot temperature.  Use a high temperature oil, like duck fat or canola or peanut oil.  Do NOT use olive oil for searing.  It does not work.  Finally, really, let them sear on the first side for at least 4-5 minutes.  Most people move them too soon, which means that the skin doesn't separate from the pan enough, and you leave all the crispy on the bottom of the pan instead of on the chicken where you want it. Patience, young Paduwans. Let your chicken live its crispy truth. 

The other truth you should all absorb is that generally when you're cooking any type of meat braise or stew, you sear the all the meat first, in batches, remove it, and then add your aromatic vegetables, which start to deglaze the pan, and absorb all that incredible flavor.  Learn this, know this, live this.  You'll see this in my upcoming Bolognese post as well.   Happy hibernating. 

Crispy Chicken with Winter Greens and Bacon 

  • 6 chicken thighs 
  • 1 package of lardons 
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced 
  • 1 leek, sliced in half and cut into half moons 
  • 1 yellow onion, diced 
  • 1/2 head white cabbage, thinly shredded 
  • 1 bunch thyme, some leafs stripped off stems, others left on 
  • 1 bunch cavolo nero kale, stripped from stems and finely sliced 
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

Sautee the lardon in a large, deep pan until they are golden brown and crispy.  Remove with a slotted spoon.  Add a glug of canola oil and keep heat high.  Salt and pepper both sides of your chicken thighs.  In two batches, place thighs, skin side down in the pan.  Leave to brown for 3-4 minutes, and carefully lift and flip.  Remove from pan and set aside. 

Add the onion, garlic and leek to the pan on medium heat.  Throw in several whole branches of thyme. Keep heat on medium, and stir the onions so that they do not get too brown, but start melting in the pan.  Start scraping off the brown bits that were left by the bacon and the chicken.  Add the cabbage, keep tossing around and then add the chicken, nestling it in the cabbage.  Add the chicken stock.  Turn the heat to low-low, and pop the pan in the oven set to 200C for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  When done, remove the chicken and stir in the chopped kale.  Heap some of the veggies on a plate and top with a piece of crispy chicken.