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Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs with Beer and Grainy Mustard Sauce

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Serves 4

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 108

Maple syrup adds a hint of sweetness that rounds out the mustard’s bite in this quick pan sauce. Not in the mood for chicken? Try it with pork chops instead.

  • 8 small bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (4 to 5 oz. each), trimmed of excess skin and fat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 1-1/2 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup amber lager, such as Dos Equis Ambar
  • 1/2 cup lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme; more for garnish
  • 1 Tbs. whole-grain mustard
  • 1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, set a large rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 475°F. Season the chicken thighs all over with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a heavy-duty ovenproof 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Swirl to coat the pan bottom. Arrange the chicken in the pan skin side down in a single layer (it will likely be a snug fit), cover with an ovenproof splatter screen (if you have one) and cook until the skin is deep golden-brown, about 7 minutes. Turn the thighs and transfer the skillet and splatter screen, if using, to the oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh registers 170°F, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Pour off all but 1 Tbs. fat from the skillet. Add the shallots and sauté over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the flour until combined. Stir in the beer, chicken broth, maple syrup, and thyme. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the skillet with a wooden spoon. Simmer vigorously until reduced to about 1 cup, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the mustard, then the butter. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, dip each chicken thigh in the sauce and turn to coat. Arrange 2 thighs on each of 4 plates, spoon additional sauce over them, and garnish with the thyme. Serve immediately.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with Maple Pan-Roasted Baby Carrots.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 420; Fat (g): fat g 27; Fat Calories (kcal): 240; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 9; Protein (g): protein g 32; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 9; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 480; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 125; Fiber (g): fiber g 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I don't understand the "bitter sauce" reviews. I only had Michelob "Ultra" beer and I used Grey Poupon mustard and pure maple syrup. My husband and I thought it was delicious and so easy. I served it with braised cabbage and baked sweet potatoes, which went well with the sauce.

I love this recipe but I don't really follow it. I brown chicken legs, deglaze the pan with beer and then add the other sauce ingredients and braise the chicken legs until tender. I tweak the sauce when it's done. It's a family favourite.

The high heat roasted checken thighs were very good, but the sauce was boring. It needs something to brighten the flavor-lemon juice maybe. I used a good quality grainy French mustard, but it wasn't enough to rescue a disappointing sauce.

This is excellent and oh-so-easy to make. Served it along with the maple pan-roasted baby carrots (excellent as well) and some jasmine rice - yummy! Everyone loved it. I really don't understand a couple of the other reviewers who found the sauce to be bitter and/or bland - I found it to be far from either, as did everyone else who tried it. We'll be making this one again.

This was a great, must make again dinner. Served with Jasmine Rice and fresh steamed veggie medley. THANK YOU

Also followed this recipe exactly as written and it takes the honour as the first Fine Cooking recipe that was a flop! What a disappointment! The sauce was bitter, and otherwise tasteless. I ended up removing the chicken, discarding the sauce and created on the whim my own grainy mustard sauce using homemade chicken stock (had in the freezer) which saved the day.

Followed the recipe to the letter (recommended by my wife who says I "interpret" each recipe to my own liking), and the sauce was unflavored/dull. I'm guessing my lack of S&P seasoning prior to this was the issue, but I didn't expect the need to OVER season the mixture prior to the beer addition? I tried the sauce making without flour a few weeks later (using the traditional fond--deglaze--butter enrich method) and had MUCH more success.

I thought it was fine but nothing amazing. The rest of the family really liked it. ppinnc - I think the baking sheet is to catch oil splatter.

Am anxious to try this recipe, but would someone remind me why we are placing a rimmed baking sheet on the lower rack as we preheat the oven. It is not mentioned again !

This chicken is superb! Lots of wonderful flavor! You definitely have to try it! I absolutely love mustard on chicken.

The sauce for this was excellent. Everyone loved it. Read my entire review at: http://themomchef.blogspot.com/2010/11/pan-seared-chicken-thighs-with-beer-and.html

Good. I used a northwest craft brew instead and turned out good!

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