Why It Works
- Adding gelatin to broth forms a thicker, glossier, far more stable emulsion than store-bought broth alone.
- Soy sauce adds a big umami boost to the sauce.
- A thermometer ensures that your chicken comes out perfectly moist with crisp skin every time.
- A pan-sauce master plan leads to restaurant-quality results every time.
Pan-roasted chicken with pan sauce—like this one flavored with fresh rosemary and lemon—is the ultimate weeknight staple. It's inexpensive, delicious, and takes less than half an hour from start to finish. Throw a great simple mixed green salad on the side, and you've got yourself one of my all-time favorite meals.
Of course, as with any simple food, all of this falls down if your chicken and pan sauce are not perfect. I'm talking glisteningly juicy chicken with crisp, deep brown skin and a rich, silky pan-sauce with bright flavor that clings to every bite. Luckily, I already did all the major legwork, so all future me has to do is adapt the technique as he sees fit.
Searing airline chicken breasts in a hot skillet and finishing them in the oven with the help of a thermometer ensures juiciness, while adding a few teaspoons of gelatin to store-bought chicken stock guarantees a pan sauce that comes out glossy and smooth every time.
For this variation, I'm going with a classic combination of rosemary and lemon, flavors that pair really well with any kind of roasted poultry or vegetable. I knew that I didn't want to stray from my basic pan-sauce method—sear and roast the chicken, remove it to rest, add aromatics to the pan while my chicken rests, deglaze with a liquid enhanced with gelatin, scrape up any browned bits, reduce, then finish with soy sauce (for added umami depth), butter (for richness), and fresh aromatics—but the process still required a tiny bit of tweaking.
My first thought was to save the rosemary until the very end, stirring it into the finished pan sauce as I would with more tender herbs like parsley or chives. It tasted fine, but the rosemary came in little overpowering bursts, rather than achieving a harmonious balance. Cooking the rosemary along with shallots before adding my liquid to the sauce produced better flavor and texture in the end.
I also decided to forgo any white wine in this recipe—doubling up on acid with wine and citrus juice was simply too much. Instead, I added only chicken stock (mixed with gelatin) to the pan after sweating my shallots and rosemary. A short strip of lemon zest enhanced the lemon aroma without adding too much extra acidity.
Finally, I finished off the sauce with a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a couple pats of butter, and a few drops of soy sauce, letting it simmer hard to emulsify into a rich sauce.
This is the kind of meal I can eat hunched over the cutting board with a chef's knife and my fingers before it ever even reaches a dinner plate. At least when my wife is not at home.
2 whole airline chicken breasts or boneless skin-on chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1 small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 (1 1/2-inch) piece of peeled zest plus 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Pat chicken breasts dry and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in an oven-safe medium stainless steel skillet over high heat until just starting to smoke. Carefully lay chicken breasts into hot skillet skin side down. Cook without moving until skin is deep golden brown and very crisp, about 6 minutes. Carefully flip chicken breasts and transfer skillet to the oven.
While chicken roasts, add stock to a liquid measuring cup and sprinkle gelatin over the top. Set aside.
Cook chicken until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken breasts registers 150°F (66°C), about 7 to 12 minutes. Remove skillet from oven and transfer chicken to a cutting board. Set aside to rest while you make the pan sauce.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet and place over high heat. Add shallots and rosemary and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add stock/gelatin mixture and lemon zest and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Continue cooking on high heat until sauce is reduced by about two-thirds, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in butter, soy sauce, and lemon juice and cook at a hard boil until emulsified, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside.
Slice chicken breasts into 3 pieces on a sharp bias and transfer to individual serving plates. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 2 to 3|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 16g||21%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||31%|
|Total Carbohydrate 2g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 1g|
|Vitamin C 4mg||18%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|