Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs with Pickled Ramps
This is the perfect dish to welcome spring and highlight one of the season's most treasured ingredients.
Ramps are available each spring for just a few short weeks, harvested in the wild amidst temperate forest floors. These wild onions, white at the base with with a purple stem and long green leaves at the top, are coveted for their seasonality and versatility. This chicken recipe is quite simple at its core making the pickled ramps the star of the show. The pan sauce is made using some of the pickling juice from the pickled ramps, which are made effortlessly as a Quick Pickle. You can still prepare a version of this dish even if you don't have pickled ramps by using shallots or scallions and some pickling juice from something else. It's all about the technique of building a pan sauce and balancing flavors with the subtle hint of a sweet and sour accent.
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; measuring spoons; wet measuring cup; large sauté pan with high sides; tongs; wooden spoon
8 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 pickled ramps, thinly sliced crosswise 1 cup chicken stock
¼ cup pickling juice
1-2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
microgreens for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pat dry the chicken thighs before seasoning generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper on the skin side (presentation side). Set aside.
2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the vegetable oil and swirl to coat the pan. Place the chicken skin-side down and sear, without moving the chicken at all, until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Then turn and brown the bottom side for 2-3 minutes. When the chicken is well browned on both sides, place the pan in the oven to finish cooking, about 20 minutes.
ILOC tip: if you do not have an oven proof sauté pan (one that has a heatproof handle and is uncoated), place the chicken on a rimmed sheet pan once browned to finish cooking in the oven.
3. Once the chicken has cooked in the oven, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Remove excess fat from the sauté pan, except for a small amount to sauté the pickled ramps, saving for later use (roasted potatoes, for example). Return the pan to the heat, add the pickled ramps and sauté for 2 minutes.
4. Add the chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to "clean the pan" and return the fond (brown bits on the bottom of the pan) to the sauce. Reduce the liquid by half its volume. Then add pickling juice and cook for another few minutes, until the sauce is thickened slightly in texture.
5. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 1-2 tablespoons of cold butter until melted and emulsified in the sauce. Taste the sauce and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
7. Return the chicken thighs to the pan, skin-side down to coat the the skin in the sauce. Now turn the chicken skin-side-up and warm over medium-low heat for approximately two minutes.
8. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with microgreens. Serve immediately.
Makes 3-4 servings.