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Ultracomforting Chicken and Gravy

By Steve Dunn Published

Spatchcock a bird and slide it under the broiler. While it cooks to juicy, crispy-skinned perfection, use our novel method to whip up a luscious, savory gravy.

When I roast a whole chicken, the accompaniment I always yearn for is a generous pour of gravy. You know, the rich, deeply flavorful kind that gives off the soul-soothing vibes of a Thanksgiving feast. Yet what often stops me is that great gravy typically begins with pan drippings, which means that you need to wait until the bird is finished roasting to make it. The best gravy also requires homemade stock, a time-consuming production unto itself.

If I could find a way to prepare juicy, crispy‑skinned chicken and savory gravy in tandem, I’d have my dream dinner without too much fuss. I suspected that a mash-up of two classics from my colleague Lan Lam—One-Hour Broiled Chicken and Pan Sauce and Our Favorite Turkey Gravy—would deliver.

The chicken recipe starts with removing the backbone of the bird so that it lies flat in the skillet, helping it cook evenly and quickly under the broiler. (I figured that the backbone would make an excellent stand-in for the turkey neck called for in the gravy.)

To help the chicken fat render under the broiler, Lan nicks the skin all over with a paring knife. This also creates escape routes for steam that would otherwise cause the skin to bubble up and burn. Preheating the skillet on the stovetop jump‑starts the cooking of the leg quarters, and placing the skillet under a cold broiler and then turning on the broiler slows down the cooking of the more delicate breast meat. After about 45 minutes, the skin is browned and crispy, and both the white and dark meat are as juicy as can be.

Timeline

Our recipe is designed so that the chicken and gravy cook concurrently for about an hour.

Now, the gravy. Her ingenious method would be ideal here because it primarily relies on trimmings—not drippings—for deep poultry flavor. It starts with simmering the turkey neck, giblets, and excess fat and skin in a small amount of store-bought chicken broth, which extracts the juices and fat much more thoroughly than searing would. The mixture is left to bubble away until all the liquid evaporates and the parts sizzle, leaving the bottom of the pot coated with a gorgeous brown layer of fond, which signals that the proteins and sugars have undergone the Maillard reaction and transformed into hundreds of new flavor compounds.

How to Spatchcock a Chicken

  • 1. REMOVE BACKBONE and TRIM FAT 

    Using kitchen shears, cut through the bones on either side of the backbone and trim any excess fat or skin from the chicken, reserving any trimmings.

  • 2. FLIP and FLATTEN 

    Flip the chicken and use the heel of your hand to flatten the breastbone.

Aromatics are added to the pot to soften before everything is deglazed with wine. Then in goes more broth before covering and simmering for an hour. After straining the deeply savory stock and thickening it with a roux that’s been cooked to just the right shade of golden brown, you end up with a truly outstanding gravy.

Save the backbone and trimmings from the bird and use them as a flavor base for a dark, ultrachicken-y gravy.

To merge the recipes, I started by preparing the chicken, reserving the giblets, backbone, and trimmings (also save the neck if it is included with your chicken). Once the bird was under the broiler, I turned to the gravy, scaling it down to serve four.

Making Gravy from Scraps

Our new approach to making gravy produces ultrasavory results in less than an hour. We start by simmering the trimmings and backbone from the bird in a small amount of store-bought broth to efficiently extract juices and fat. As the liquid evaporates, a tremendous amount of chicken-y fond develops on the bottom of the saucepan. We then add aromatics, deglaze the fond with wine, pour in more broth, and rapidly reduce the mixture to further concentrate its flavor before thickening the gravy with a butter and flour roux.

After just 15 minutes of simmering the scraps in 1 cup of broth, the liquid had evaporated and the bottom of the saucepan was coated with a substantial fond. In went onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, and thyme; once the onion was translucent, I added a splash of dry white wine, poured in 3 more cups of broth, and cranked the heat to high. To speed things up, I left the lid off so that the mixture could rapidly concentrate.

Why and How We Rotate the Skillet in the Oven

  • To ensure that the chicken cooks evenly and the skin browns thoroughly, position the skillet as close to the center of the oven as the handle allows, turning the handle so that it points toward one of the oven’s front corners. About halfway through cooking, rotate the skillet by moving the handle toward the other front corner.

A mere 20 minutes later, the stock had reduced by half, so I strained it and thickened it with a toasty golden-brown roux. Meanwhile, I removed the bird from the broiler and let it rest. I defatted the ultrachicken-y drippings to give a final boost to what was already a deep, dark, seriously flavorful gravy.

This supercomforting twofer dish was ready to serve.

Recipe Broiled Chicken with Gravy

Spatchcock a bird and slide it under the broiler. While it cooks to juicy, crispy-skinned perfection, use our novel method to whip up a luscious, savory gravy.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.