Skillet Chicken Three Ways

Chicken is a staple in my house as well as in my private chef business. Because I tend to prepare food ahead of time for both by family and my clients, I prefer recipes that keep and reheat well. I have come to adore skillet chicken recipes, which not only tend to improve over time, they also are usually one-pot meals that can finish in the oven, thereby reducing clean-up and active cooking time.

Another facet of the chicken puzzle is how to keep it from getting too dry, especially since my purposes require it to be reheated most of the time. Though I prefer dark meat, with both the bones and the fat because it tends to stay moister, my husband and clients often want white meat. Cooking with the skin on improves the flavor and reheat-ability of white meat, but even if you pan fry it ahead of time, it doesn’t stay crispy when cooked in a sauce and who likes gelatinous chicken skin?

So…I have taken to buying chicken parts with the skin and bones and then taking the skin off. Depending on the recipe, I may brown the pieces or dredge them in seasoned flour and then brown them, or just add them uncooked to the sauce. I heat everything on top of the stove to a simmer and then put the heavy covered skillet into a slow oven for 2 to 3 hours, depending on the size of the pieces. The finished chicken is intact, but just barely, with the flesh falling off the bones as you eat it, with extra sauce to spoon over it. Yummmmm.

I recently adapted one of my favorite dishes, Philpino Chicken Adobo to a skillet recipe, so that instead of simmering the uncooked chicken parts with garlic, white vinegar, soy sauce, and black peppercorns on top of the stove, it goes into the oven with a lid at 325. The result is even more heavenly than the original version.

The Italian version requires browning the salt and peppered skinless chicken parts in a skillet in a little olive oil. You remove the browned parts and let them drain on a paper bag. Next saute some sliced onions, peppers, garlic, and mushrooms in the chicken fat. Then add crushed tomatoes, red wine or balsamic vinegar, basil and oregano. Simmer for 10 minutes then add the chicken pieces. Cover all the pieces with sauce, cover, and put in a 325 oven for 2 to 3 hours. Serve over pasta.

Prepare this Thai Coconut Chicken in a similar way, by browning the salt and peppered chicken first and draining. Saute onion, julienned ginger, and garlic in ghee for 5 minutes. Add coconut milk, lime juice, tamari or fish sauce, brown sugar, and some red or green Thai chili paste (watch out for the hot stuff!). Simmer sauce for 10 minutes, then add chicken pieces and cook in a 300 oven for 2 to 3 hours. Add more lime juice and salt if necessary and baby spinach or green peas for color. Serve over rice.

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