A succulent Tuscan Chicken recipe and the story of an escaped turtle.
Not just a recipe but a way of cooking, Tuscan chicken is a great way to practice making juicy, flavorful, succulent chicken. Yes, it is possible. In this recipe you will learn to properly pan sear chicken and finish in a hot oven, preserving texture, flavor and moisture, followed by a sage reduction sauce. Easy, really, and so worth it. Invite your friends and have a great meal.
Tuscany is a magical place, stepping back in time but without all of the plagues, war and famine, the depressing stuff. If you are considering a visit, I highly recommend staying in a town called Colle di val d’Elsa. It is a 1000 year old medieval hill town that virtually no tourists knows about, I doubt anyone reads this blog so the secret is probably still safe. When Miss B and I discovered this amazing place, we stayed in a little apartment across from the proprietors parents and beneath his grandmother’s apartment. I say ‘apartment’ because I don’t know how to describe this enchanting piece of Tuscan heaven. It looks more like a dead-end street in a Medieval Castle compound. Cobblestones, gates, turtles….yes…one particular turtle.
Our particular apartment came with a turtle, one that was quite the escape artist. He had a beautiful home on the patio, walled off with a cute little wire gate that should have been sufficient, but no, it wasn’t. After hearing what sounded like a steel mixing bowl dropping on the floor, a few minutes would pass and then we spied this guy breaking into our kitchen. That’s not all, Miss B came running in from the patio saying some woman is calling out to her in Italian. Being quite confused and not believing what I was seeing or hearing, I run out to the patio. “Signora! Meter la tartaruga indietro! Tartaruga” I whip around, look up and see an Italian Grandma quite concerned about the welfare of our resident reptile and gesturing frantically with both arms. I failed at stifling a laughing fit, went inside, grabbed the turtle and returned him to his lovely home, waved at grandma and was quite satisfied with my decision to live on the economy and not stay in a tourist hotel. In case you are wondering how he did it, yes I am sure it’s a he by the amount of trouble ‘he’ causes, I caught him red-clawed the next day in the act. He did this at least once a day, quite entertaining. What I am calling Tuscan Chicken is a pan seared chicken thigh that is finished in the oven, then the ‘brown bits’, or ‘fond’ is left behind which is used to make a delicious pan sauce for the chicken. The few ingredients in this recipe were readily available in Tuscany, especially the garlic, sage and lemons. Apparently Northern Italy is a perfect climate for lemons so they were in abundance, think Limoncello.
The secret to succulent, flavorful chicken is actually no secret at all. You need to use bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces. Chicken breast would work fine but I have trouble finding this where I am so I use chicken thighs. Forget boneless, skinless, it just doesn’t work. The skin imparts flavor and is really a hands off baster. The bone imparts flavor. Without these key components you will keep blaming the grocery store for your flavorless, dry chicken dinners, when actually the problem lies in your choice of meat. If you are worried about the extra calories, just climb a mountain, y’all be fine.
- 6 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
- 1 Tbs vegetable oil
- 3 Tbs onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 Tbs fresh sage, chopped
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- 1 Tbs all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 Tbs butter
- 3 Tbs lemon juice
- Pre-heat oven to 450F.
- Heat a large, oven proof skillet or dutch oven over medium/high heat with 1 Tbs vegetable oil.
- When the oil shimmers or better, when you see wisps of smoke (this takes a while, be patient), place chicken thighs, skin side down.
- Cook for 5 minutes or until skin is medium-dark brown, then turn over and cook 3 more minutes. Transfer to oven and cook for 10 minutes or until chicken reaches 175F for dark meat or 160F if you are using chicken breasts.
- Remove from oven and place chicken on plate, set aside to rest.
- Meanwhile place skillet or dutch oven on stovetop over medium heat, draining off all but 2 Tbs of chicken fat.
- Add onion & cook until soft, about 2 minutes.
- Add garlic, sage, wine & pepper, scraping all the good bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Add flour, stir, cooking the flour for a minute then add broth.
- Bring to a simmer and reduce by half.
- Sauce should thicken as it reduces.
- Turn off heat and add lemon and butter, stir until incorporated and pour over hot, rested chicken.
Bon Appetit and Arrivederci Y’all!