The all-purpose stovetop to oven skillet is a kitchen essential. Mine works overtime and never lets me down. My skillet and a pair of tongs turn out delicious dinners for my family. Here are three special skillet suppers:
Chicken Thighs with Roasted Winter Fruit The wonderful thing about skillet chicken is the crisp golden brown skin you get when searing for about 8-10 minutes on each side and then finishing off in the oven. Searing also lock in those juices so you have nice, moist, flavorful chicken.
Your best friend and must-have-on-hand ingredient for skillet chicken is broth. I use boxed broth and always have extra in my pantry. This recipe comes alive with sweetness from apples, pears and grapes. A combo of mustard powder, cinnamon, garlic and thyme round out the flavors of this dish.
Prep time: 10 minutes; Cook time: 45 minutes; Ready time: 55 minutes; Serves 4
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 bone in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2-pounds)
2 tart apples such as pink lady or granny smith, cored & cut into ½-inch thick slices
2 ripe but firm pears, cored and cut into ½-inch thick slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon mustard powder
½ to ¾ cup chicken stock
1 cup red grapes
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Heat oil over medium high heat in a 12-inch or larger oven-proof skillet. Add chicken and brown for 8 to 10 minutes per side until nicely golden brown. Remove and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400° F. If there is more than 2 tablespoons of grease in the skillet, drain excess grease. Add apples and pears and sauté for 4 to 6 minutes or until just beginning to brown. Add garlic, salt, cinnamon and mustard powder and sauté 1 minute more. Add chicken thighs back to the pan with ½ cup chicken stock and bring to a boil. Transfer to preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Add grapes and ¼ cup more chicken stock if liquid has reduced too much and return to the oven for 15 minutes.
Garnish with balsamic vinegar and thyme and serve each chicken thigh with about 1 cup roasted fruits.
Steak with Red Wine Glazed Carrots, Parsnips & Mushrooms Skirt steak is a boneless, relatively inexpensive cut prized more for its flavor than tenderness. To minimize toughness, it can be marinated and/or grilled, or pan seared very quickly (think stir-fry) or braised very slowly. Slice thinly against the grain to maximize tenderness.
This steak (much like brisket and London broil) has long fibers running through it. You will see these distinct lines in the meat. Cutting against means don’t slice parallel to those lines, but rather across those lines, ideally at a 45 degree angle. You’re cutting those long fibers into short ones to make it easier to chew. By the way, you can slice these meats before or after cooking, but if you cut after cooking, let the meat rest a bit. Everything behaves better when it’s rested.
Prep time: 10 minutes; Cook time: 33 minutes; Ready time: 43 minutes; Serves 4
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound skirt steak
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch sticks
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch sticks
½ cup mushrooms, quartered
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped parsley
freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium high heat. Add steak and sear until nicely browned, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove and let rest. Add parsnips and carrots and sauté 6 to 8 minutes or until slightly browned and beginning to soften. Add mushrooms and sauté 2 minutes. Add stock and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and sauce is reduced and thickened. Stir in parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Thinly slice steak against the grain and return to pan for 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through and coated in sauce. Divide between 4 shallow bowls.
Asian Vegetables with Quinoa Last, but certainly not least is a skillet meal featuring quinoa. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah or kee-no-uh) is from South America and it’s a species of goosefoot, a “grain-like” crop. It is packed with calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron, and has a high protein content to boot. Unlike wheat and rice (but similar to oats) it contains a balanced set of amino acids, making it a complete protein source. It’s high in fiber, gluten-free and easy to digest. It’s so nutritious that NASA is considering it as a crop for their Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned space flights. It’s kinda like rice or couscous. Has a nice, nutty flavor too.