Pan-Roasted Chicken with Shallots and Dates
If we were stranded on a desert island, Athena Calderone’s amazing pan-roasted chicken with shallots and dates just might be the one meal we’d eat for the rest of our lives. Juicy chicken with crispy skin rests on a caramelized layer of Medjool dates and green olives. The dish is salty-sweet and bright (thanks to lemon juice and zest) all at once. Check out Cook Beautiful, Calderone’s gorgeous new cookbook, for more delicious recipes.
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
10 shallots, peeled, larger ones halved lengthwise
4 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped
8 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
½ cup dry white wine
1½ cups low-sodium chicken stock
8 Medjool dates, pitted and halved lengthwise
⅔ cup green olives, smashed and pitted
1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1. Set the chicken out at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.
2. Preheat the oven to 450˚F. Position a rack in the top third of your oven.
3. Place your largest cast-iron skillet in the oven for 15 minutes. Pat the chicken breasts dry and generously season them on all sides with salt and pepper. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and place it on the stove top. Add the grapeseed oil to the skillet and heat it over medium-high heat until the oil has a subtle ripple effect. You want the oil to be very hot.
4. Working in two batches, cook the chicken, skin side down, until the skin is crispy and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan.
5. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set it on a plate as you build your sauce. Over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the skillet and add the shallots. Cook the shallots undisturbed for 5 to 6 minutes, until they are caramelized and golden. Add the garlic, a few thyme sprigs and 1 tablespoon of the butter; season with salt and pepper. Toss the shallots and continue to cook until they begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine and reduce it by half. Add a few more thyme sprigs and the stock. Simmer the sauce over medium to low heat for 15 minutes, until reduced slightly. Check for seasoning and add the dates and olives to the sauce.
6. Return the chicken breasts to the skillet, skin side up, and place it in the oven. Roast the chicken until it’s just cooked through, about 20 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast should register 160°F.
7. Transfer the chicken breasts to a plate; set them aside and keep warm. Return the skillet to the stove top over medium to low heat and add the vinegar to the sauce. Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove it from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the lemon juice. Check and adjust the seasoning.
8. Return the chicken to the skillet and serve it immediately, garnished with the remaining thyme and the lemon zest.