"Short of turning chicken on a spit over live wood embers, I know of no better process for cooking chicken, nor one that delivers more satisfying or true flavors,” Paul Bertolli wrote of this technique, which he calls "bottom-up cooking," in Cooking by Hand.
You don’t sear, and you don’t roast, and you don’t grill—you don’t do any of the things we’re taught to do to chicken. Instead, you lay the chicken, skin side down, in a barely hot pan. Then you leave it mostly alone for about 30 minutes, flipping only once. The skin becomes impossibly crisp, enough so to satisfy your darkest fried chicken cravings.
Bertolli’s is a worthy technique to play with, but Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer of Canal House have streamlined it for us. They use only thighs, which lie flat, maximizing the crisping area, and jigsaw easily into a round skillet. Unlike Bertolli, they also allow for a bit of olive oil to get the process rolling.
Put the olive oil into a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet, skin side down. Cook them like this, without moving them, until the fat has rendered out and the skin is deep golden brown and crisp, 15 to 30 minutes. Fiddle with the heat, reducing it to medium-low if the skin begins to burn before it gets evenly golden brown. Turn the thighs over and stir the preserved lemon rind into the fat in the skillet. Continue cooking the thighs until the meat closest to the bone is cooked through, about 15 minutes more. Serve the thighs and lemony pan drippings with the lemon wedges.
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