A good recipe for pan-roasted chicken thighs is a secret weapon that every cook should have in their arsenal. You can dress it up for company or you can make it on the fly for a quick weeknight dinner. Though there are a million different ways to do chicken thighs, one of our very favorites is this quick, tarragon-scented version served with a tangle of hearty broccoli rabe.
The gentle flavor of fresh tarragon is the perfect complement to rich, meaty chicken thighs—and to the gradually brightening days, now that spring is getting closer. And using bone-in chicken thighs guarantees that you’ll end up with a sumptuous, juicy dinner with little risk of overcooking.
The sauce, enriched with a knob of butter and a spritz of lemon, is velvety, rich, and complex. Add in a side of simply cooked broccoli rabe with garlic and you’ve got a hearty and memorable meal.
Slow-Roasted Tarragon Chicken Thighs with Broccoli Rabe
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
3 tbsp olive oil
1 oz. unsalted batter
2 large shallots, peeled and finely minced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves, tough stems removed, torn by hand into small pieces
1½ cup vegetable stock or water
1 tbsp fine salt
½ tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb broccoli rabe, washed
1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced thin
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chili flakes
½ cup water
1 tsp salt
Pat chicken thighs dry with kitchen towel and arrange in a single layer on a large plate or baking sheet. Place uncovered in the refrigerator overnight to allow the skin to dry out, which will ensure that the chicken will end up with a lovely, golden crust.
Forty-five minutes before you plan on cooking the chicken, remove it from the fridge to let it come to room temperature.
Remove the chicken from the plate or baking sheet and arrange on several lengths of paper towel, skin side down. Season the flesh side of the thighs with salt and pepper, then flip the thighs over and do the same with the skin side.
Heat the olive oil in a mid-sized sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil just begins to shimmer and moves easily about the bottom of the pan, arrange the chicken thighs in it, skin side down. They should just begin to sizzle gently. If it seems like they’re browning too quickly, turn the heat down a notch.
Cook the thighs for twenty minutes, looking underneath them every so often to make sure that they aren’t burning. Cooking the thighs gently and slowly ensures that the fat renders out of the skin making it crisp and golden.
Using a pair of tongs, flip the thighs over and continue to cook for another twenty minutes with the flesh side facing down.
Remove the thighs to a clean plate and set aside.
Add the butter to the pan and, once it has melted, follow with the shallots and garlic.
Cook over a gentle heat for a minute or so to allow the shallots and garlic to soften without browning.
Pour in the vegetable stock and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula or a flat-edged metal spoon to dislodge the caramelized chicken juices, which will enrich your sauce.
Add the torn tarragon to the reducing broth followed by the chicken thighs, skin side up.
Continue to cook until the sauce has thickened just enough to coat the pieces of chicken.
Turn off the heat and add the tablespoon of cold butter to the pan, stirring it into the sauce to give it a lush, velvety finish.
Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and serve.
Cut off the bottom 1 inch of each broccoli rabe stem and discard.
In a medium skillet or sauté pan, heat the olive oil with the sliced garlic till the garlic is a very light gold—no more than a minute over a medium flame.
Add the chili flakes, broccoli rabe, and water and increase the heat to high.
Cook, tossing frequently with tongs, till the broccoli rabe is tender and cooked through and the water has almost all evaporated from the pan.
Season with salt to taste and serve.