Chicken fried rice, emphasis on the chicken. By starting with chicken thighs—crisped leisurely in a skillet, Canal House–style—you earn a surplus of golden, flavorful schmaltz. This is what we’ll use instead of a neutral-flavored oil to stir-fry ginger and garlic, onion and scallion, carrots and peas. The result is a standout fried rice that’s chickeny even before the chicken thighs get nestled on top. A few notes about the execution: Using refrigerated rice not only streamlines day-of cooking, but also sidesteps wet, mushy fried rice. Scrambling the eggs in a separate skillet ensures fluffy, distinct curds (versus egg-coated fried rice—no thanks). And if you want to keep the chicken thighs hot in a low-temp oven while you’re cooking the fried rice, feel free, but I prefer the ease of letting them rest on the still-warm stove. This is great with a very cold, very hoppy beer. —Emma Laperruque
1 hour 10 minutes
bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
kosher salt, plus more as needed
freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
Microplaned (or very finely grated) fresh ginger
large garlic cloves, Microplaned or minced
large yellow onion, finely diced
scallions, finely chopped
medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
cooked white or brown rice, short- or medium-grain, cold
Add the oil to a large, heavy skillet, preferably cast-iron. Set over medium heat. Season the chicken thighs all over with salt and pepper. Add them to the skillet, skin side-down. Cook without moving until the fat has rendered and the skin is super golden brown and crispy, 15 to 30 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed, reducing to medium-low if the skin begins to burn before it gets evenly brown. Turn the thighs over and continue cooking until the other side is browned and the meat closest to the bone is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. When the chicken is done, transfer it to a plate, and pour the rendered fat into a heatproof glass or bowl. Leave the heat under the skillet on.
Add 1 tablespoon chicken fat to the pan, then the ginger and garlic. Stir-fry for 1 minute until very fragrant. Add another 1 ½ tablespoons fat, along with the onion, scallion, carrot, and a big pinch of salt. Stir to combine, then cover the pan. Cook covered for 5 minutes, stirring halfway through. Uncover the pan and cook for another 3 minutes or so, until the vegetables are mostly tender. Add the peas and stir-fry to thaw and cook, about 2 minutes. Add the rice, soy sauce, and a little more chicken fat (or all of it!). Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more soy sauce. Turn the heat down to low while you cook the eggs in a separate pan.
Add the butter or oil to a nonstick skillet and set on the stove over medium heat. Crack the eggs into a bowl, season with a pinch each of salt and pepper, and beat with a fork until smooth. When the butter has melted and is starting to foam, pour in the eggs. They should sizzle. Cook, stirring slowly but constantly, until the eggs are just set—this should only take a minute or so. Add the eggs to the rice and gently stir to incorporate so they’re evenly distributed in big pieces.
Nestle the chicken thighs on top of the fried rice and serve hot.
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.