Bill Bracken Demystifies Chicken Thighs Adding Tons of Veggies

Chefs, Cooking, Recipes, Restaurants By Oct 13, 2011

Bill Bracken, Executive Chef at Island Hotel, Newport Beach, is known for the luxurious flourishes he adds to dishes.

Delicacies served at Palm Terrace such as macaroni and cheese augmented with black truffles (scroll down to see it, and some luscious s’mores). Or his ahi tartar, garnished with tobiko (flying fish roe that is mildly smoky), aioli, marinated Maui onions and micro shiso.

When cooking at home for his family, he often cooks chicken thighs. He says that the thighs cook quickly, and are full of flavor. Much more interesting, he says, than chicken breasts. And the video tells it all …

In this recipe, Bracken pan-roasts the thighs on top of the stove and supplements the dish with loads of fresh vegetables. And the addition of capers and fresh lemon juice adds a just-right spark. Delicious.

Roasted fingerlings potatoes and fresh pea sprouts are some favorites in the mix.

Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs with Vegetables, Lemon and Capers

Yield: 2 (2-thigh) servings, or 4 (1-thigh) servings
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
All-purpose flour for dusting
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
Kernels from 1 fresh ear of corn
8 roasted fingerling potatoes
1/4 cup shelled, peeled fava beans or shelled edamame
20 fresh green beans, cut or torn into 1/2-inch pieces, blanched tender-crisp, drained
Optional: 1 ounce pea tendrils, see cook’s notes
15 small cherry tomatoes, such as Sweet 100’s
1 large shallot, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon drained capers
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil or tarragon
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon whipping cream
Optional: 1 teaspoon butter
Cook’s notes: Pea tendrils make a lovely addition, but they generally aren’t available at supermarkets. They are often available at Asian markets with large produce sections and home gardeners who grow sugar snap peas have them in large supply. If you can’t find them, omit them. The dish will still be delectable.
1. Season chicken thighs with salt and freshly ground pepper; dust lightly with flour. Heat oil in medium-sized deep skillet on medium heat; add chicken skin-side down in single layer. Cook until golden brown on each side. If thighs aren’t overly large, you will be able to cook them thoroughly on the stovetop. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover; cook until no pink color remains next to the bone. Or if the thighs are really large, use an ovenproof skillet, and once the thighs are nicely browned put the skillet into a 375 degree oven and roast until thoroughly cooked.
2. While the chicken is cooking, heat butter in a second medium-sized deep skillet on medium heat. Add potatoes and corn to melted butter; cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until potatoes are a little crispy. Add in the fava beans or edamame, green beans and pea tendrils and continue to cook, tossing often. When the pea tendrils are wilted and the beans are hot add in the tomatoes and toss quickly. Seasons with salt and fresh ground pepper and remove from the heat. Divide in the center of plates and when the chicken is done, place chicken on top.
3. Using the same pan that the chicken was cooked in, drain off all but 1 teaspoon oil and quickly sauté the shallots on medium-high heat until softened. Add lemon juice and scrape up any brown bits that are sticking to the pan (these will give flavor to the sauce). Add capers, herbs and chicken broth; cook on high to reduce by half in volume. Add cream and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. If desired, swirl in butter off heat by shaking skillet handle. Spoon over chicken and serve.

Doesn’t chef look angelic with the light from above?

The Island Hotel team scored big at a recent “Small Bites for Big Causes” charity fundraiser at The Center Club, Costa Mesa. Here Executive Chef Bracken prepares his irresistible mac n’ cheese with truffles (a real crowd pleaser), and Executive Pastry Chef Michael Owens dishes up his dessert S’mores Tacos (graham cracker crust, creamy chocolate ganache and freshly-made torched-to-perfection marshmallow. Owens’ dessert took first place in the competition.


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