by Catherine M. Haug,  October, 2007

Pan roasting was a new experience for me, when I tried this first recipe from Cook's Magazine, but now I'm hooked, and have used the same technique for other meats as well. It's quick and easy, and the result is delicious.

Slow roasting in the oven is probably a more healthful way to roast meats, but takes much longer.

Pan Roasted Chicken Breasts

This recipe is adapted from Cook's Magazine, and serves 2.  It is one of my weekly staples, as it is quick and easy to fix.

You can easily double or triple the recipe. You can also vary the flavor by using different herbs or different wines, such as:

  1. dry vermouth with fresh sage or tarragon;

  2. sherry with fresh thyme;

  3. dry red wine with fresh rosemary.

When I make chicken stock, I pour part of the batch into 2 ice cube trays and freeze.  2 cubes = 1/4 cup.  (Be sure to measure the volume of the cubes in your cube tray, as they may be a different size).  This allows me to use a small quantity of stock at a time, such as is required in this recipe.

Do not remove skin from the chicken breasts; if you do, the result will be tough and dry.  I like to keep the bones with the meat also, as they, along with the skin, add important nutrients and flavor to the sauce. 

The original recipe uses olive oil for browning and chicken over high heat, but high temperatures will cause the oil to break down and go rancid (produce free radicals). Therefore I recommend using a fat that can tolerate the high heat, such as lard, coconut oil or palm oil.

Oven vs Pan Roasting:

After browning the chicken in a skillet, there are two ways you can go:

  1. According to the original recipe, you turn off the burner but leave the breasts in the skillet, skin-side down.  Then roast in a preheated 4500 F. oven for 15 - 18 minutes, uncovered.  Turn oven off when done.

  2. Or, if you don't like cleaning up the oven splatters, turn chicken skin-side down, put a lid on the skillet and roast on top of the stove with the burner on medium high for 15 - 18 minutes. This is the method I use.

Serves 2.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  1. 2 chicken breast halves, with skin and rib bones, brined

  2. ground black pepper

  3. 2 tsp lard or coconut/palm oil

  4. 2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced (for milder flavor, such as when using sherry wine, mince a small shallot)

  5. 3 whole fresh sage leaves (or 3 - 6 leaves French tarragon)

  6. 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as dry vermouth

  7. 1/2 cup homemade rich chicken stock (fresh or frozen)

  8. 1/2 tsp beef gelatin

  9. 1/2 tsp arrowroot powder or tapioca flour

  10. 2 - 4 Tbsp butter

  11. large bowl (for brining)

  12. cast iron skillet with oven-proof handle

  13. splatter screen

  14. sauce whisk


  1. 1.Place breasts in a bowl of salt brine, and let rest in refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Refer to How to Brine Chicken for instructions.

  2. 2.Meanwhile, mince the garlic (or shallot); wash and dry sage leaves (or other herbs). 

  3. 3.After 30 minutes of brining, remove chicken from brine; rinse, and dry with a paper towel.  Lightly pepper all sides.

  4. 4.If you plan to oven-roast (optional--see above), preheat oven to 4500 F.

  5. 5.Heat lard/oil in cast iron skillet over high heat.  Add breast pieces, skin side down.  Cover with a splatter screen to minimize splattering (do not use a lid).  Cook over high heat 5 minutes.  Using a kitchen tong, turn over each piece, and cook another 3 minutes.  Then turn pieces over again (skin side down).

  6. 6.Roast chicken about 15 - 18 minutes, following one of the two methods described above (in preheated oven, or on top of stove). Center of breast should register 1600 F with an instant read thermometer.

  7. 7.Remove breast pieces to a platter and keep warm.

  8. 8.There should be plenty of chicken fat mixed with the lard/oil in the pan.  You can pour off some if you wish, but retain at least a tablespoon.  Place pan over medium heat; add garlic (or shallot) and herbs; saute, stirring until garlic softens a bit, about 1 - 2 minutes. 

  9. 9.Add chicken stock & wine; stir well, scraping browned bits off the bottom of the pan to flavor the sauce.  If using frozen broth cubes, stir until they are melted.  I like to use a special whisk made for sauces, but a fork will also work.  Cook until nearly half the volume, then add gelatin and arrowroot powder while whisking, to avoid lumps.  Check the chicken pieces; if any juices have leaked out, add them to sauce in pan.

  10. 10.Add butter, 1 Tbsp at a time, whisking it into the sauce until it is incorporated, before adding the next bit of butter.  When all butter has been incorporated, pour sauce over the chicken pieces on the platter and serve.

Assembly or Serving Suggestions

  1. I like to serve this with steamed brown rice, or cooked wild rice.  You can garnish with sprigs of herb or parsley.

  2. The red wine version is excellent with buttered linguine or fettucini on the side.

  3. Another excellent side dish is seared green beans or asparagus.

Pan Roasted Chicken Breasts with Baba Ghanoush

I came up with this combination when I got two small eggplants in my CSA bounty.  They were too small to make Eggplant Parmesan or Moussaka, and I didn't have anything else to add to a stir fry, so I decided to make a small batch of Baba Ghanoush.  But what to have with this treat?  Pan Roasted chicken!

Make pan roasted chicken recipe above, with the following modifications:

  1. 1.Brine, then season breasts with a bit of ground cumin, in addition to black pepper.

  2. 2.Sear and roast the breasts as above, but don't make the sauce.

  3. 3.Slice the roasted breast meat and arrange on plate around a mound of Baba Ghanoush.

  4. 4.Sprinkle with minced fresh parsley, and serve.  Excellent with pita bread and Tabouli (Tabbouleh) (parsley, bulgur & tomato salad) on the side.

Pan Roasted Chicken with Beer & Grainy Mustard Sauce

This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking, originally by Dawn Yanagihara-Mitchell. While the original serves 4, I’ve cut this in half to serve 2.

The original recipe sears the chicken in a pan, then roasts it in the oven, but I like to roast it in my cast iron skillet, with lid.

For the sauce, you can make a roux with flour as in the original, but I prefer to eliminate the flour and use the method described for Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts above, adding arrowroot and gelatin followed by butter.

Whole-grain mustard is not the same as ground mustard nor prepared mustard, but rather whole or partially ground seeds combined with seasonings like honey, turmeric, garlic & brown sugar (from

See below for testing - excellent!

Ingredients & Equipment:

  1. 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs OR 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, OR 1-each half-breast, wing, thigh and drumstick, OR 1 Cornish game hen, halved

  2. 1 medium shallot

  3. Celtic sea salt & ground black pepper

  4. 1 Tbsp olive oil or lard

  5. 3/4 tsp unbleached white flour or oatmeal flour OR 1/2 tsp each arrowroot and gelatin (optional)

  6. 1/2 cup amber lager

  7. 1/3 cup homemade chicken stock

  8. 2 tsp maple syrup

  9. 1/4 tsp chopped fresh thyme plus more for garnish

  10. 1/2 Tbsp whole-grain mustard *

  11. 1 Tbsp unsalted butter

  12. large bowl (for brining)

  13. cast iron skillet with lid

  14. splatter screen

  15. sauce whisk

  16. * Or see Cat’s whole-grain mustard, below.


  1. 1.Brine chicken breast or both halves of a game hen. You can brine the other pieces if desired. After brining, rinse and pat dry, then let sit on a plate, uncovered, in refrigerator for several hours or overnight, to dry out the skin. Season all pieces with pepper, and any un-brined pieces with salt.

  2. 2.Mince the shallot and set aside.

  3. 3.Heat oil/lard in skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange chicken/hen in pan, skin side down in a single layer. Cover with splatter screen and cook until skin is deep golden-brown, about 7 minutes. Turn pieces over and lightly sear the other side, about 3 minutes.

  4. 4.Turn again so skin-side is down. Cover pan and roast on stove-top until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh registers 170 F, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

  5. 5.Sauce: Reduce heat to medium and pour off all but 1 Tbsp fat from skillet. Add shallots and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. If desired, stir in the flour until combined in a roux and cook 1-2 minutes to lightly brown the flour. However, I prefer to make this without the flour, relying on cooking down the sauce with arrowroot and gelatin, as in Pan Seared Breasts, above.

  6. 6.Stir in beer, stock, maple syrup and thyme, plus any juices that have escaped from the resting chicken pieces. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, scraping any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Simmer vigorously until reduce to about 1/2 cup, about 3 minutes.

  7. 7.Remove from heat & whisk in mustard, then butter. Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper.

To Serve:

  1. Dip each piece in the sauce and turn to coat. Spoon remaining sauce over all. Garnish with sprigs or leaves of fresh thyme.

  2. Serve with braised Brussels sprouts or other brassica, which go well with the beer-mustard sauce.

Cat’s whole-grain mustard: Makes about 1/2 Tbsp.

  1. 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds

  2. 1 small clove garlic, minced to yield 1/4 tsp

  3. 1/8 tsp unrefined sea salt

  4. 1/4 tsp honey

  5. Crack the mustard seeds with mortar and pestle. Mince garlic, sprinkle with salt, then mash to a paste with side of knife blade. Combine garlic pulp with cracked mustard and honey, stirring to combine.

Testing 12/19/11: I used 1 brined, large half-breast, halved (each piece is about 6 oz). Made as written, but only used 1 tsp maple syrup in the sauce, and IPA (bitter beer) because that’s all I had on-hand. For whole-grain mustard, I ground 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds in my mortar just enough to crack some of them, then minced 1/4 tsp garlic and smashed it to pulp with 1/8 tsp salt. Added garlic pulp with 1/4 tsp honey to mustard, stirring to combine. This made about 1/2 Tbsp.

This is relatively quick and easy to prepare, takes about 45 minutes start to finish (not including brining time). Result: very good, tho the sauce is slightly bitter from the IPA. Would definitely be better with amber ale. My mustard mix (with honey and pressed garlic) is very good. Reheated second serving, skin-side up, in an uncovered Corningware dish, with sauce, in 300 F oven for about 20 minutes. Skin did not get soft; chicken still moist and the bitterness from the IPA in the sauce had mellowed. I think this dish was even better after reheating.

Testing 3/7/13: Used 1/2 chicken, cut into pieces (drumstick, thigh, wing, and half-breast cut again in half), for 2 servings. Used IPA beer as before, and mixed up my own mustard as before. Omitted maple syrup. Result: very good, and quick.

Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs, with Late-Summer Vegetables, and Pan Sauce

This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking, originally by Martha Holmberg, and serves 2. You could also use both the legs of a chicken (thighs and drumsticks).

Nicoise olives are small, about the size of a blueberry. Kalamatas are larger and you may want to slice them in half.

As in the above recipe, you can roast chicken in the pan or in the over, after browning; your choice. However, the veggies are roasted in the oven (or on a grill).

Ingredients & Equipment:

  1. 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs or 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, brined (optional)

  2. Celtic sea salt & ground black pepper

  3. 3 Tbsp olive oil. divided

  4. 8 oz fresh green beans, trimmed (about 2 cups)

  5. 10 oz cherry or grape tomatoes (2 cups)

  6. 1/2 large sweet or red onion

  7. 1/2 cup pitted Nicoise or Kalamata olives

  8. 2 large cloves garlic

  9. 3/4 cup dry white wine, such as vermouth; or half wine, half rich chicken stock

  10. 1 tsp unsalted butter

  11. 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, sliced into 1/2 inch strips

  12. large bowl (for brining)

  13. large bowl (for veggies)

  14. cast iron skillet with oven-proof handle

  15. splatter screen

  16. rimmed baking sheet

  17. sauce whisk


  1. 1.Optional brining: Place chicken pieces in a bowl of salt brine, and let rest in refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Refer to How to Brine Chicken for instructions.

  2. 2.If chicken is not brined, generously salt and pepper the pieces; if brined, rinse and pat dry, then season only with pepper.

  3. 3.While chicken is brining, preheat oven to 425 F and prep the veggies: Wash &trim beans, and cut or snap into 2" lengths; wash tomatoes; cut onion into 1/2 inch thick slices; peel then slice garlic 1/8 inch thick. Toss all in bowl with olives and 2 Tbsp olive oil. Season with about 3/4 cup salt and several grinds pepper. Spread on rimmed baking sheet.

  4. 4.Heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken pieces, skin side down.  Cover with a splatter screen to minimize splattering (do not use a lid).  Cook 5 - 7 minutes until browned.  Using a kitchen tong, turn over each piece, and cook another 3 - 5 minutes.  Then turn pieces over again (skin side down).

  5. 5.Roast chicken about 18 - 20 minutes, following one of the two methods described above (in preheated oven, or on top of stove). Center of breast should register 1600 F with an instant read thermometer.

  6. If roasting chicken in oven, place the skillet on the upper rack and veggies on the lower rack. Veggies will likely need to roast 8 - 12 minutes longer than the chicken.

  7. While chicken is roasting, slice basil leaves and set aside.

  8. 6.When chicken is done, remove from heat and transfer pieces to a plate. Spoon off fat as desired, but leave about 1 Tsp in the skillet. Add wine, set over high heat, and boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, 4 - 6 minutes, scraping browned bits off bottom of skillet. Swirl in butter until melted. Off heat.

  9. 7.Remove veggies from oven, and toss with sliced basil. Arrange chicken pieces on top of veggies and drizzle with sauce. Serve immediately.

Preserved Lemon Citrus Chicken with Chervil Gremolata

This recipe is adapted form The Secret Ingredient: Preserved Lemons, by Kerry Saretsky. I prefer to save bony pieces (back, neck) for making chicken broth. And I prefer to brine the breasts to help them retain moisture.

This is a bit more like a tagine.

Chervil is a lovely herb (and member of the carrot family), but doesn't last too long after harvesting, and doesn't retain its flavor when dried, so best to cut it right before using. It's flavor is a bit licorice, not as pronounced as fennel. If you can't find chervil, you can use parsley or fennel leaves. Tarragon is another substitute, although it has a different flavor; best to combine tarragon with parsley.

See below this recipe for a variation using Cornish Game Hens (or other game hens such as grouse, pheasant).

Serves 4.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  1. 1 whole chicken, cut into parts: legs, thighs, wings, breasts (save bony pieces for homemade broth)

  2. 1 Tbsp chopped fresh chervil

  3. Celtic sea salt & freshly ground pepper

  4. 2 Tbsp olive oil

  5. 1-2 small preserved lemons, rinsed

  6. 2 clove garlics, sliced thin

  7. zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon, divided

  8. 3/4 cup dry white wine (vermouth)

  9. 1/2 cup homemade chicken stock

  10. 2 Tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream

Chervil Gremolata

  1. 1 clove garlic, minced

  2. half of orange and lemon zest from above

  3. 2 stems fresh thyme

  4. 2 Tbsp chopped fresh chervil

  5. Celtic sea salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. large bowl (for brining)

  2. 2 small bowls

  3. saucier


  1. 1.Brine chicken breasts for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Cut each half-breast in half, if they are large. Season all except breast pieces with salt, and all with pepper and fresh chervil.

  2. 2.Meanwhile, rinse lemons, remove seeds and slice lemons into thin strips; place in small bowl. Slice garlic and add to lemon strips. Grate zests, adding half to lemon strips and set aside remaining half for the gremolata.

  3. 3.Heat saucier over medium heat; when hot, add oil. Sear chicken pieces on both sides in hot pan until golden (may need to do in batches). Cook thighs a bit longer. Remove to a plate.

  4. 4.Reduce heat to low; add lemon mixture and quickly stir them around in the hot oil, then add the wine. Raise heat to high and use a whisk to pick up all the chicken bits from the bottom of the pan. Add vermouth and cook down a bit, then add stock and season with pepper (and salt, if you didn’t brine).

  5. 5.Add chicken pieces back to pot, thighs first as they take longer to cook. Return to boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover the saucier and simmer for 30 minutes (possibly 50 minutes).

  6. 6.Meanwhile, prepare gremolata: Remove leaves from thyme stems and chop finely. Mix in small bowl with minced garlic, reserved zests and chopped chervil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  7. 7.Remove lid and cook uncovered for 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and transfer chicken pieces to serving platter. Whisk creme fraiche into saucier, the pour over the chicken.

  8. 8.Top with gremolata and serve.

Assembly or Serving ideas

  1. Serve with fresh baguette or flatbread (such as pita or naan); or couscous flavored with spinach and/or sun-dried tomato. Or Quinoa, with Saffron & Raisins instead of couscous.

  2. Accompany with olives, fresh grapes, and a green salad.

Variation with Cornish Game Hens

Make as written, except use:

  1. 2 - 3 game hens, brined (see below)

  2. 2 Tbsp chopped fresh chervil (divided),

  3. 1 - 2 preserved lemons (rinsed),

  4. 2 cloves garlic (divided),

  5. zest of 1 each orange and lemon (divided),

  6. 1/2 cup dry vermouth,

  7. 2/3 - 1 cup stock

  8. 2 Tbsp sour cream

  9. 2 stems fresh thyme.

  10. Process:

  11. 1.Brine hens the night before, using 6 Tbsp cup Kosher Salt, 2 Tbsp Rapadura sugar and 5 1/2 cups water per bird for 2 hours. Remove from brine, rinse well and pat dry. Cut each bird in half and lay on plates skin side up in fridge to dry overnight (for crispier skin).

  12. 2.Follow chicken recipe (above), but cook the birds in wine/broth mixture about 45 minutes, covered. Then remove cover and cook another 5 - 10 minutes.

Testing recipe:

Testing 6/18/10, using chicken: Used whole Hutterite chicken, cut up, and brined the breasts. Didn't have enough chervil so added some fresh feathery fennel leaves; otherwise, prepared as original recipe. Result: Delicious flavor that grows on you as you go. Sauce is tasty, but there's too much of it. The breasts, wings, and drumsticks were done, but the thighs could have used more cooking time. I served with the saffron quinoa, which added nice flavor to the overall meal. Next time: Sear thighs a bit longer than the other pieces, and add them back to the pot first. Add wine alone and cook down to deglaze pan, then add stock; also reduce stock to 1/2 cup instead of 1 cup (modified recipe accordingly). May need to cook up to 50 minutes instead of 30.

Testing 6/12/11, using Cornish Game Hens: I made with just one hen, halved (2 servings). A whole chicken weights 3 - 5 pounds, dressed; one game hen is 22 oz. or about 1/3 that of a chicken; I’ve modified the ingredients to roughly 1/3 of the original:

  1. Brined using 6 Tbsp Kosher Salt, 2 Tbsp Rapadura and 5 1/2 cups water for 2 hours. Then rinsed well and patted dry, and set to dry off in the fridge for 4 hours.

  2. Used for the bird and gremolata:  1 Tbsp chopped fresh chervil (divided), 1/2 preserved lemon (rinsed), 1 clove garlic (divided), zest of 1/3 each orange and lemon (divided), 1/4 cup dry vermouth, 1/3 cup stock and 1 Tbsp sour cream, 1 stem fresh thyme.

  3. Followed instructions, but cooked about 50 minutes. Served with Quinoa, with Saffron & Raisins.

  4. Excellent!!


  1. Cook's Magazine



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Cat's Kitchen

  1. Pan Roasted Chicken Breasts (Moved)

  2. Pan Roasted Chicken Breasts with Baba Ghanoush (Moved)

  3. Pan-Roasted Chicken with Beer and Grainy Mustard Sauce (Moved)

  4. Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs, with Late Summer Vegetables and Pan Sauce (Moved)

  5. Preserved Lemon Citrus Chicken with Chervil Gremolata (Both Moved)

  6. Variation: Preserved Lemon Citrus Game Hens with Chervil Gremolata

  7. Related recipes

  8. Chicken Kiev (Moved)

Partridge Cochin Hen

photo from

Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts