Like most true Southerners, I was raised on fresh peas and fresh beans. To this day, one of my favorite meals is a big ol’ pot of either one. (A big ol’ pot of greens, too, of course, but that’s another post altogether.) In our house growing up, a pot of peas or beans and some cornbread was all we needed for a very satisfying meal.
Given my obsession with chicken thighs, however (well documented on this blog… here and here, for instance), I figure beans and peas can only be improved upon by a genius new chicken thigh preparation. Add in maybe my favorite food in all the world, rice & gravy (yes it is a single entity), and you have a killer southern supper like no other. So I give you:
Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs in a Mustard Tarragon Cream Sauce, with Long Simmered Green Beans, Lady Cream Peas and Rice & Gravy.
I must note that most cooks wouldn’t serve peas and beans on the same plate. Too much! Overdoing it!
I will admit that when I first starting serving this meal, it was only the chicken, peas and rice & gravy on the plate:
A divine plate of food for sure. But a little color on the plate is nice, as is a green vegetable. I certainly could choose broccoli or spinach or even greens of any type. But can there be too much of a good thing? In a word, no. Thus, I couldn’t resist going full bore southern and adding my long simmered green beans.
If you’re looking for heaven on a plate, this is it.
As for the rice & gravy, just make some white rice (yes, for this, it must be white rice) and cover it with the pan sauce from the chicken.
Did I mention this was heaven on a plate??
PAN ROASTED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH MUSTARD TARRAGON CREAM SAUCE
Note: This needs a pretty long simmer, so the total cook time can be close to an hour. But the long simmer causes the chicken to be very moist and flavorful, while also creating an incredible sauce.
Also, don’t be put off by the long directions. It’s very easy. I just want to make sure everyone understands exactly how to make this perfect.
Serves 4…. though this also is a great dinner for 2 hungry people who like two chicken thighs each…. like me.
4 chicken thighs on the bone
2 preserved lemon wedges and 2 T of the ‘gloop’ from the jar:
(*You can use the juice of 2 lemons in a pinch but, really, start making your own preserved lemons. They are damn easy and so damn good. Recipe here.)
9 cloves garlic: 6 smashed, 3 minced
2 shallots diced
1 cup white wine
3 cups chicken broth
2 T best quality mustard:
(* I like both smooth and course. Just make sure it’s a good mustard. You can’t beat Zatarains.)
3 T heavy cream
4 thyme sprigs
2 Italian parsley sprigs
3 tarragon sprigs
salt and pepper
The night before or morning of:
Put chicken thighs in a large ziplock bag with smashed garlic cloves, preserved lemon wedges and gloop, thyme sprigs, parsley sprigs, 1 T salt and 2 T fresh cracked black pepper. Zip up and toss all around, making sure it is well mixed. Let sit in fridge overnight or at least all day.
Remove bag with chicken from fridge an hour before cooking to come to room temp.
When ready to cook:
Place cast iron skillet over high heat for 3-5 minutes. Get it HOT.
Remove chicken thighs from bag, scraping the herbs and garlic from the chicken to get a good clean sear on the skin.
Pour two glugs olive oil into skillet and let sit for a minute. You want the oil hot.
Place thighs in pan, skin side down. It will fire up! In 3-5 minutes the skin will be nice and browned and crisp. Don’t move the chicken but watch it so it doesn’t burn. When skin releases from the pan and the skin is nice and crips and brown, flip the chicken. Let the bottom side sear for 3-5 minutes as well, getting a nice brown sear on the bottom.
Turn heat to medium and remove chicken from pan to plate.
Toss the shallots into the skillet and stir stir stir. You want them to cook down in the juices in the pan, yum, but not burn. When they are starting to soften, throw in the garlic and stir stir stir so the garlic also does not burn. After about 60 seconds, pour in the wine. Turn back to medium high and let the wine cook down until the wine is mostly gone. (No need to go all the way!)
Pour in 2 cups of the chicken broth. Add the mustard and stir everything around as the broth comes to a soft boil. Add the tarragon sprigs. (I add salt and pepper again at this point but that is up to you.) Turn heat back up to medium high.
When it is all mixed and the liquid is at a nice slow boil, put the chicken back in the skillet, skin side up. The liquid should come up to the skin but not cover the skin so it doesn’t mess up the crisp skin. Cook the chicken on medium: the liquid should be at a soft bubbling boil, for 20 or so minutes, until when pierced the chicken thigh juice runs clear not pink. (Or use a thermometer to get the chicken to the temp you desire, remembering it will continue to cook when you remove it from the skillet!)
If you need to add extra broth as it cooks, use that extra broth. I usually add a little. I like this sauce more liquid than thick… better for topping the rice.
When at your desired temperature, remove the chicken thighs to a plate. Add the cream and let the sauce thicken to your desired consistency. (You may want to turn the heat up a little at this stage.) As noted above, while I want a good sauce, I like this to be still slightly liquid, not a total thick sauce. This is “gravy” for the rice, after all.
Remove the tarragon sprigs. Serve chicken thighs with white rice and with the sauce poured over both the rice and the chicken.
And don’t forget these as well: