Jacques Pépin's Crunchy Skillet Chicken Thighs With Zucchini

July 26, 2019
4 Ratings
Photo by Tom Hopkins
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

"I love dark chicken meat, and Shorey’s and my favorite is from the thigh. In this recipe, chicken thighs are cooked skin side down, covered, in a skillet for about 30 minutes. They don’t need to be turned over because covering the pan creates steam that cooks the chicken through. To further help in the cooking, I make a ¾-inch cut with a knife along both sides of each thigh bone. Then the fat that comes out of the chicken is used to sauté the zucchini for just a few minutes. Whenever possible, use organic chicken." —Jacques Pépin

Excerpted from A Grandfather's Lessons: In the Kitchen With Shorey © 2017 by Jacques Pépin. Photography © 2017 by Tom Hopkins. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.Food52

What You'll Need
  • 2 large chicken thighs (about 1 pound), preferably organic
  • 1 teaspoon peanut oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 firm zucchini (about 8 ounces), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced (1/4-inch) dried tomatoes
  1. Place the thighs skin side down on a cutting board and, using a sharp paring knife, make a cut about ¾ inch deep on both sides of each thigh bone. Season the thighs with ½ teaspoon each of the salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the peanut oil in an 8- to 10-inch nonstick skillet. Place the thighs skin side down in the skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes over high heat, making sure that they are not sticking to the skillet. Then cover tightly with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook the thighs, covered, for about 30 minutes. The skin should be very crunchy.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 170°F.
  4. Transfer the chicken to an ovenproof serving plate, leaving the cooking fat in the skillet. Keep the chicken warm in the oven while you prepare the zucchini.
  5. Add the diced zucchini to the skillet and cook over high heat for about 4 minutes. Add the remaining ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and the dried tomatoes and cook, tossing, for another 30 seconds.
  6. Arrange the zucchini mixture around the chicken on the plate and serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jane Prive
    Jane Prive
  • Mike Elliot
    Mike Elliot
  • Cary
  • MrsMehitabel

5 Reviews

Jane P. June 8, 2021
Great recipe! However my skin was not crispy because there was a lot of liquid in the pan and it wasn’t all fat. So the skin sat in the liquid and got soggy. I wonder if water was added to the chicken? This did not affect the flavor. The zucchini tomato mix was delicious. Will make again.
Mike E. June 8, 2021
That happened to me once and I realized the problem was that I was using frozen, thawed chicken which I hadn't blotted well enough with paper towel to get rid of the moisture, which ended up steaming it instead of crisping it!
Mike E. December 29, 2019
So...this was delicious! In the past, whenever I tried a crispy pan-fried chicken thigh recipe, it was a good bet I'd set off the smoke detector! But M. Pepin's method of "steaming" the thighs in the pan for 30 minutes after browning them first was crispy/juicy genius.
The zucchini and sun-dried tomato combo was also delicious. The recipe didn't specify whether to use jarred or packages sub-dried tomatoes. I went with the latter and rinsed off the marinade which saved time since I didn't have to rehydrate first. Definitely a keeper!
Cary July 31, 2019
I have been using his method for years since I saw it on Serious Eats: it is a winner every time! The slice along the bone helps it cook evenly, a non stick pan makes it foolproof as you can move it to prevent burning without having to flip. Tons of drippings to make sauce/gravy.
MrsMehitabel July 29, 2019
I love to add a tiny drizzle of roasted sesame oil when the thighs first go in the pan. I'll be making this tomorrow!