Skillet Chicken with Caramelized Garlic and Green Beans

10/10/18

4 ingredients, one skillet, abracadabra: dinner.

There are only a few ingredients in this recipe (not counting salt, pepper, and oil), but it yields punchy, fierce flavors that leap out of the skillet like a rabbit from a magician’s hat.

Here’s the trick- rendered chicken fat. Anything tossed in this deeply savory potion will instantly turn delicious, but piles of garlic and slices of lemon absorb the hot liquid and caramelize into greater versions of themselves. 

Up-close view of a golden brown chicken breast on top of a pile of cooked green beans in a skillet.

I learned to start chicken in a cold pan from this recipe in Bon Appétit. Bone-in chicken breasts or thighs are placed skin-side down on a skillet without any oil and slowly heated over medium. This method gives the fat plenty of time to melt from the chicken while its skin turns glassy and golden.

I prefer bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts but you can use thighs instead. You’ll be left with an even deeper pool of luscious chicken fat for your vegetables to swim in- a luxury treatment that can gussy-up anything from the ground. 

Let the seasons or whatever’s wilting in your refrigerator decide what gets added to the skillet next: haricots verts, bunches of curly kale, slices of bell pepper or even a can of beans would all fare well with a lemon-garlic makeover.

I chose green beans because they were firm, bright, and abundant at the farmer’s market- but use whatever vegetable looks good at your local market or grocery store (or, hey, I see you Target grocery shoppers).

The vegetables bathe in the lemon-garlic-chicken skillet until they, too, start to brown and crisp, embracing their inner savory side. A complete dinner emerges from that skillet- you’ve cut all kinds of corners but no one feels cheated.

I served this with wild rice that I started in my rice cooker before beginning prep. It would also be great with farro, quinoa, or even spaghetti. It doesn’t really need a carb unless you live in a constant state of worry that the people around you might be hungry. 

Use this recipe as proof that dinner magic exists- you don’t need a ton of time or ingredients to make something delicious. Adjust the flavor profile and vegetable add-ons to suite your cravings, then share the trick with your friends. They won’t believe their eyes.

Skillet Chicken with Green Beans and Caramelized Garlic

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Prep Time: 10 Cooking Time: 30

All you need is one skillet and 4 ingredients- chicken, garlic, lemon, and green beans- to make dinner magic.

Ingredients

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts (about 2 ½ pounds)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 pound green beans (preferably hericot verts)
  • Flaky sea salt
  • Olive oil, for drizzling

Instructions

1

Heat oven to 425 and season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place skin side down in cold skillet, then turn the heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, until the skin is deeply golden brown, 10 minutes. Leaving it skin-side down, transfer to the oven and cook until chicken is cooked through (160 degrees), another 10 or so minutes .

2

Using tongs, transfer chicken to a plate to rest, leaving all the fat behind. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and heat on low. Add the lemon and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic has started to caramelize and brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

3

Add the green beans, season them with salt and pepper and toss with the lemon/garlic oil. Cover the pan and cook on medium-low for 5 minutes. Uncover, toss once, and cook an additional 5 minutes until tender and golden brown on one side.

4

Return the chicken to the skillet, along with any juices that have collected on the plate, and cook for a minute or two to integrate the chicken with those incredible flavors and reheat it slightly. Be sure each person gets a few lemon slices and garlic cloves with each portion. Finish with an extra drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of flaky sea salt, a few turns of black pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon if desired.

Nutrition

  • 432 Calories

Notes

An easy, straightforward dinner calls for a simple weeknight wine. Try a soft, lemony white like a Chardonnay that isn't too oaky. If you wanted a red, you could do something with good acidity like a Valpolicella, or go for a contrast with a tannic Chianti.

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