Crispy Chicken Thighs with Broccoli and Mushroom Gravy
Look at these chicken thighs! See the golden, crispy crust? Somehow you can just tell that the meat inside is perfectly tender and juicy, can’t you? I want to bite into one right now! But first, let me tell you about this tray of food, because it is so worthy of your weeknight meal attention.
First thing you need to know is that the chicken is coated in rice flour. That’s it. Easy.Peasy. And, gluten-free. Secondly, I used just one pan and one sheet tray to create this yummy dish. Saving on clean up always makes me a happy gal. Lastly, all you need to round out this meal is a pot of rice, which cooks in less time than the chicken thighs.
The first thing I did for this meal is char the broccoli in a cast iron pan, which is my go-to method for cooking vegetables. Get a pan nice and hot, add some olive oil and warm it until it’s nice and viscous (ie. rolls fluidly around the pan), then toss in the veggies and let them char or blacken for a few minutes on each side. This imparts a tremendous amount of flavor. Since I knew I wanted to cook the broccoli in the oven with the chicken, I wasn’t worried about tenderizing the broccoli in the cast iron pan, so I just seared it really hot for just a few minutes before transferring it to a sheet pan.
Next up, I added more olive oil to the same cast iron pan to steep some rosemary and garlic. This is a great way to add another layer of flavor. While the aromatics steeped slowly over low heat, I seasoned the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and dredged them in rice flour. Rice flour is a great alternative to AP flour since it crisps up better and is gluten-free. Once the rosemary and garlic were nicely browned, I placed those on the tray with the broccoli and turned the heat up to medium-high. Get the pan super hot before adding the breaded chicken thighs. It’s most important that you hear aggressive sizzling when you set the chicken in the pan. If not, remove and wait another minute or two. Sizzling is what tells you that you are about to get some serious sear on!
Sear the chicken skin side down to start….
Flip the chicken once golden and delicious looking and sear the second side…
Then, transfer the browned chicken thighs to the sheet pan with broccoli and rosemary and garlic. Place the tray in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes or so to cook all the way through.
Now, you may wonder why I bother transferring the chicken and broccoli to a sheet pan since cast irons are oven safe. True! I could have just placed the cast iron pan right in the oven and finished the chicken that way, however, I want to use all the crusty pan drippings to make a sauce and I want to do it while the chicken finishes cooking rather than waiting until afterward. Trying to make the most efficient use of my time here, folks!
Speaking of efficiency, if you want to add rice to this meal, start a pot now so it can cook while the chicken is the oven.
Finally, let’s make the gravy! Don’t you just love gravy?? Start by cooking the mushrooms in the left-behind chicken fat. If there isn’t enough (1-2 tablespoons) add more olive oil. Sauté the mushrooms until all the liquid has cooked out and they start to turn brown, stirring often. Sprinkle with rice flour and cook for about 1 minute while stirring, then deglaze with some apple cider vinegar. Cook out the vinegar, add the chicken stock, whisking to prevent lumps, then bring to a boil. Once the mixture boils, it will start to thicken and you will begin to see a beautiful, rich pan-sauce or gravy. Whatever you want to call it, it’s good! And it’s not even Thanksgiving yet!
Once your gravy is thick and delicious, remove it from the heat. If it gets too thick, you can thin it out with more chicken stock. By now, the chicken should be nearly done. Pile up a plate with rice, broccoli, a chicken thigh and some gorgeous gravy and get it while it’s hot!
Juicy, crispy chicken thighs with a mushroom gravy and charred broccoli make a deliciously satisfying family-friendly weeknight meal.
4 cups broccoli florets
2+2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5–6 sprigs fresh rosemary
4–5 cloves garlic, peeled
2 pounds chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on
1 cup + 2 tablespoons rice flour
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cups chicken stock, low sodium
1 cup basmati or jasmine rice
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
Set a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and let warm. While the oil heats up, prep your broccoli into medium florets.
Once the oil is hot, add the broccoli florets. Season with salt and pepper, toss or stir to coat the broccoli with the oil and seasoning, but then let it hang out in the pan untouched for a few minutes until it gets a nice sear. Then stir or toss to sear remaining sides. If your pan is adequately hot when you add the broccoli, this should take about 5 minutes.
While the broccoli sears, pat the chicken thighs dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Pour 1 cup of rice flour into a wide, shallow dish and dredge each thigh in the flour, being sure to coat both sides throughly and evenly.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Transfer the seared broccoli to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and set aside. Set the cast iron back over high heat and add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil along with the cloves of garlic and sprigs of rosemary. As the oil gets hot, the garlic will soften and brown and the rosemary will begin to release it’s oils and fragrance. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to the sheet pan of broccoli.
Place your chicken thighs skin-side down in the hot pan. You want to hear that rapid sizzling as you add the meat to the pan. Arrange the thighs so they are in a single layer, each one having full access to lay flat on the hot surface of the pan. Just like with the broccoli, leave them untouched for 4-6 minutes to get a nice, golden sear on the first side, then flip and brown the second side for another 2-3 minutes. Transfer the seared chicken to the sheet pan with the broccoli.
Place the chicken and broccoli in the preheated oven and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees. Or, you can pierce a piece of chicken with a knife and check that the juices run clear. This should take about 20-25 minutes.
If you are making rice for a side dish, now is a great time to get that started. Measure the rice and liquid into a pot and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until the liquid is absorbed and grain is tender, about 15 minutes.
You can also make the pan sauce now. Start by setting the cast iron back over medium heat. If the pan seems dry, add a little more olive oil. Toss in the sliced mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Sautee until all the liquid has cooked out and mushrooms are beginning to brown, stirring often.
Sprinkle the mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of rice flour and toast for about 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously. Then, deglaze the pan with apple cider vinegar. Cook out the liquid, then pour in chicken stock. Stir to dissolve the rice flour and bring the liquid to a boil, which will start to thicken the sauce. Once sauce is thickened to your liking, check seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste, then turn off the heat. Let the sauce stay warm in the pan until ready to serve the chicken. If it gets too thick, thin out with more stock or water.
After the chicken and broccoli are out of the oven, transfer a chicken thigh to each dinner plate along with a scoop of rice, broccoli and a spoonful of mushroom gravy. Serve warm and enjoy!