Lemon Sage Smothered Chicken

lemon sage smothered chicken recipe inspired by craig claiborne
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No oven? No problem! This is an easy and delicious chicken dish from the Southern United States. This chicken dish is cooked entirely on the stove top and is inspired by Craig Claiborne's Smothered Chicken recipe.
The recipe uses a unique braising technique. A spatchcocked chicken is sandwiched between two skillets to ensure that as much skin as possible comes into contact with the cooking pan while it fries in brown butter and that moisture is circulated during the braise.
I found Claiborne’s version of this dish while browsing the New York Times ; I loved the simplicity of this Southern dish, but it was a little too 1950s for me. This is my attempt to resurrect the recipe into the modern age.
I brightened up the gravy with some lemon, sage, and garlic; I further increased the flavour with celery and onion. I used the weight of another cast iron pan, plus random cans of food, to securely flatten the chicken to ensure that as much skin as possible made contact with the surface of the pan during the initial slow sear, resulting in extra crispy goodness.
The chicken is then braised in a gravy for the remainder of the cooking time; the heavy pan on top of the chicken acts as a makeshift lid, trapping in much of the moisture, allowing the entire bird to cook thoroughly.
The gravy if finished with a splash of lemon juice, some lemon zest, and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper.
Serve with potatoes, rice, or your favourite side of vegetables. Optionally, you can garnish with parsley.
* Spatchcocking is the removal of the backbone of poultry in order to open it up and allow it to lay flat for more even cooking. This is a useful technique for frying and grilling poultry. To spatchcock a chicken, simply take a pair of kitchen shears and cut out the backbone. Then flip the chicken, skin-side up, and apply force to the chicken breasts in order to flatten the chicken further. Freeze the backbone for future stock making.
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 15 mins
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins
Serves
4
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 15 mins
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins
Serves
4
INGREDIENTS
The Chicken
  • 3 ½ lb whole chicken, spatchcocked
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper
The Gravy
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 rib of celery, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp dried sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup vermouth, or any aromatic white wine such as a Gewürztraminer or riesling
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
Garnish
  • parsley, optional
RECOMMENDED KITCHEN EQUIPMENT FOR THIS RECIPE
INSTRUCTIONS
 
  • Thoroughly season spatchcocked chicken with salt and pepper. Fold wingtips underneath the chicken. *See note above about spatchcocking a chicken.
  • Place butter in 12 inch cast iron skillet set over low heat. Wait until the butter melts and begins to brown.
  • Add chicken, skin-side down, to the skillet. Ensure the chicken is fully spread out. Sandwich the chicken between the skillet on the bottom and another heavy piece of cookware on top. Fill top cookware with cans of food for extra weight. The top cookware and food cans will ensure that as much skin as possible makes contact with the surface of the bottom skillet, resulting in an extra crispy skin. Cook over low heat for 25 minutes.
  • Remove chicken from skillet. Remove all the fat from the skillet except for 2 tablespoons. Wash the bottom of the cookware used to weigh down the chicken as you will be using it later.
  • Add onion and celery to skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Sweat the onions and celery for 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, dried sage leaves, and flour to the skillet. Quickly and constantly stir until flour is browned, and garlic and sage are aromatic, about 1 minute.
  • Slowly whisk in the chicken stock and vermouth/wine into the skillet.
  • Return chicken to the skillet, skin-side up, weighed down with the other piece of heavy cookware and food cans; braise for 45 minutes in a simmering gravy.
  • Remove chicken from skillet and place onto cutting board. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, allow gravy to come to a boil. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest, season gravy with salt and pepper, and remove skillet from heat.
Plating
  • Carve up the chicken and place onto plate. Spoon the gravy over the chicken and optionally garnish with parsley. Serve with potatoes or rice.
    Lemon Sage Smothered Chicken Recipe Cooked in Brown Butter
INGREDIENTS
The Chicken
  • 3 ½ lb whole chicken, spatchcocked
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper
The Gravy
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 rib of celery, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp dried sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup vermouth, or any aromatic white wine such as a Gewürztraminer or riesling
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
Garnish
  • parsley, optional
RECOMMENDED KITCHEN EQUIPMENT
Best 12 Inch Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge Pro-Logic Cast Iron 12 Inch Skillet

My favourite cast iron skillet. The Pro-Logic comes pre-seasoned, making it instantly ready to be used on electric, gas, and induction stovetops.  Check it out on Amazon.

Best Kitchen Shears

Shun Kitchen Shears The Best Shears For Cutting Chicken Poultry Bones Spatchcocking

Shun kitchen shears are my go-to tool for cutting up poultry. These are the best kitchen shears for cutting through chicken bones without any fuss. Perfect for spatchcocking a chicken! Check it out on Amazon.

INSTRUCTIONS
 
  • Thoroughly season spatchcocked chicken with salt and pepper. Fold wingtips underneath the chicken. *See note above about spatchcocking a chicken.
  • Place butter in 12 inch cast iron skillet set over low heat. Wait until the butter melts and begins to brown.
  • Add chicken, skin-side down, to the skillet. Ensure the chicken is fully spread out. Sandwich the chicken between the skillet on the bottom and another heavy piece of cookware on top. Fill top cookware with cans of food for extra weight. The top cookware and food cans will ensure that as much skin as possible makes contact with the surface of the bottom skillet, resulting in an extra crispy skin. Cook over low heat for 25 minutes.
  • Remove chicken from skillet. Remove all the fat from the skillet except for 2 tablespoons. Wash the bottom of the cookware used to weigh down the chicken as you will be using it later.
  • Add onion and celery to skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Sweat the onions and celery for 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, dried sage leaves, and flour to the skillet. Quickly and constantly stir until flour is browned, and garlic and sage are aromatic, about 1 minute.
  • Slowly whisk in the chicken stock and vermouth/wine into the skillet.
  • Return chicken to the skillet, skin-side up, weighed down with the other piece of heavy cookware and food cans; braise for 45 minutes in a simmering gravy.
  • Remove chicken from skillet and place onto cutting board. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, allow gravy to come to a boil. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest, season gravy with salt and pepper, and remove skillet from heat.
Plating
  • Carve up the chicken and place onto plate. Spoon the gravy over the chicken and optionally garnish with parsley. Serve with potatoes or rice.
    Lemon Sage Smothered Chicken Recipe Cooked in Brown Butter

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A note about our kitchen equipment reviews:

All recommended kitchen equipment is based on a thorough review of the product and get constant use in the test kitchen. You can be confident you are getting the best poultry shears and the best cast iron skillet when you follow the above recommendations.

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Tiffany
Tiffany
3 months ago

5 stars
This looks so good!

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