How to Pan-Roast Chicken Thighs to Crisp Perfection

Pan Fried Chicken Thighs from Handle the Heat

Have you seen the latest issue of Bon Appetit? The one where Gwyneth is smiling at you from the cover? If not, take a look the next time your standing in line at the grocery store.

Gwyneth’s pictures are redonkulous. I don’t know anyone who prances around in their kitchen wearing skin-tight, thigh-high dresses eating huge plates of pasta. I wanted to dismiss the issue after laughing at those photos but luckily I didn’t because there was at least one gem of a recipe in there. This recipe promised a simple technique to produce outstanding results and I’m happy to say it lived up to it’s promise. The chicken is succulent and flavorful with a beautiful crisp, salty skin. It’s great for those days when you are craving crispy chicken but don’t feel like frying or roasting a whole bird. Also, chicken thighs are dirt cheap so it makes a great family meal. If you want to add another punch of flavor, throw in some sprigs of thyme or rosemary or even a few lemon wedges.

Recipe Rundown
Taste: Richly savory and, well, like chicken!
Texture: Salty, oh-so-crisp skin with a super moist meat.
Ease: This is probably the easiest way to enjoy perfectly cooked dark meat chicken with a scrumptious fried skin.
Appearance: I don’t know about you but crisp skin makes my mouth water.
Pros: Better than KFC!
Cons: None that I thought up.
Would I make this again? Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

Print Save

Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs

Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients:

6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
fresh thyme or rosemary sprigs, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking.

Nestle chicken in skillet, skin side down, and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high and continue cooking skin side down, moving chicken around to ensure even heat. Cook skin-down until fat renders and skin is golden brown, about 12 minutes.

Transfer skillet to oven and cook 10-13 minutes more. Flip chicken so the skin side is facing up and cook until the skin is crisp and the internal temperature registers at least 165 degrees, about 5 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a plate and allow to rest 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh herbs, if using.

From Bon Appetit June 2011

*post edited 5/27/13 to add new and improved photo!

   

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61 Responses to “How to Pan-Roast Chicken Thighs to Crisp Perfection”

  1. #
    1
    Maris — June 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    So simple yet so delicious. I love it!

  2. #
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    Tracey — June 11, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    We eat chicken thighs all the time – they're one of my favorite quick and easy meals for all the reasons you described!

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    whenfoodisdangerous — June 12, 2011 at 12:08 am

    Yum, definitely going to have to try this technique! I also like to pan-fry them with “bricks” (I actually use heavy cans to weight the pan.)

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    FRANCIS — June 12, 2011 at 5:22 am

    So easy and simple.

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    Sarah@buttered-up — June 13, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I love this chicken idea. I'll definitely be trying it out. I've only seen the Gwyneth cover online. I wasn't very excited about it though because really, I'd like to see food or someone who has more to do with food than her on the cover. Sigh.

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    Louisa — June 13, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    I think I was one of the few who actually loved Gwyneth's spread in Bon Appetit haha… your chicken looks delish, can't wait to try this!

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    Travis Cotton — June 13, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    I have the issue. There were some great shrimp recipes in it. I skipped the Gwyneth part because none of the recipes interested me really.

    The shrimp bisque recipe was good though I recommend a roux over using rice.

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    Reggie — June 27, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    I've got this one on my radar for tonight.
    Looks great!

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    Grammy — July 30, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Everyone Loves it. My grandson first time eating chicken with his hands. Thanks for sharing.

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    Jo — August 25, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Looks really delicious! What if I do not have an oven at home? Can I panfried the chicken?

    • handleheat replied: — August 25th, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

      The chicken is finished off in the oven so the skin doesn't become burnt and the chicken meat is completely cooked. I don't think this recipe would be very successful without an oven, unfortunately. Sorry :(

    • cook for poor. replied: — February 11th, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

      I have had to make do. I just let it cook covered on med till it was done. then turned it up to high to crispy it up a bit.

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    Alex — September 6, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Do you know of a light, refreshing herb sauce that would pair well with this?

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    Francis — September 16, 2011 at 4:37 am

    Can you suggest a sauce to go with this chicken dish.

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    Adriane — September 19, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    I hope I'm not stealing the limelight here but a great sauce to go with these (or really, any chicken) would definitely be the dijon sauce featured on this site: http://www.handletheheat.com/2011/06/chicken-with

    I make something similar to this at home, but instead of rosemary I use tarragon– insanely good with any mustard-based sauce. If you like, take it up a notch and splash in a healthy dose of dry white white or even sherry. This combo of mustard, tarragon, wine and broth is absolutely my go-to sauce for all kinds of proteins …mmm…

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    rita in mi — October 4, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    wow, this recipe (or cooking method, I suppose) is downright amazing. Love love love!! And I don't think a sauce is necessary at all – the juicy, lightly seasoned chicken was perfect as is.

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    furlonium — October 11, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    So…the “amazing” recipe is salt, pepper, fry in oil then transfer to oven? Wow.

    • handleheat replied: — October 11th, 2011 @ 11:05 pm

      It's not necessarily the recipe that's amazing, it's the technique. Sometimes the simplest things are the best :)

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    Stef — October 12, 2011 at 1:36 am

    This recipe looks great! Can you use canola oil instead of vegetable oil?

    • handleheat replied: — October 12th, 2011 @ 3:37 am

      Yes! I actually think I might have used canola one of the times I made it.

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    catsford — October 24, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    I use grapeseed oil 'cause that's what I keep in the house for things too hot for olive oil and it works great. This has become one of our favorite dishes!

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    Josh — November 22, 2011 at 1:59 am

    I followed the recipe as best I could, but unfortunately I charred the hell out of the skin (which is also my favorite part).

    I added a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pan, turned the heat on high, and while it was warming up I liberally salted and peppered both sides.

    Then I added the chicken to the pan, skin side down, and let it sear for about 2 minutes on high heat. Then I left the chicken skin side down and turned the heat down to even a little less than medium-high.

    I let it continue to cook skin side down for about 10 minutes (which made me pretty nervous, apparently for good reason). After that I transfered the pan into the oven preheated to 475 degrees.

    It was specified, so I left the oil in the pan and also left the chicken still skin side down. I just moved the whole thing into the oven and shut the door for about another 11 minutes.

    Then I took the pan out, flipped both pieces so that they were facing skin side up, and put it back in the oven for another 6 minutes.

    The rest of the chicken was great, but the skin turned out completely black, and by the time I was done the apartment was filled with smoke and my eyes are still burning lol.

    What did I do wrong?

    • handleheat replied: — November 30th, 2011 @ 6:44 pm

      Josh – Sorry you had a bad experience! It's hard to tell what went wrong without having been there. Anytime you pan-fry with a cast iron skillet there's bound to be a little smoke. When it comes to following a recipe, I've found that paying attention to the verbal cues is crucial. Your pan/stove-top/oven might run hotter, your thighs might have been smaller, the skin might have been thinner, etc., so follow your instincts and written cues such as “golden brown” and “internal temperature of 165 degrees”.

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    Rose — December 16, 2011 at 12:40 am

    In spite of my weary reservations I decided to give this recipe a try. Should have known better. It wasn't long before awful regret set in, the recipe itself shows a complete lack of even the most basic grasp of cooking – the author clearly does not understand how oil works. Still I followed the instructions, working with quite large thighs I found the heat and timing suggestions were very very far from how little time it took. It is very difficult without a window to monitor them once they are transferred to the oven (which in itself is a very stupid thing). However, they came out more or less as shown with a great deal of paranoia executed on my behalf (particularly since there are sprinklers all over my apartment). They were the correct temperature, they were a lovely golden brown, delicately crisp and inviting looking.

    Too bad the flavor was a combination of horribly bland and oil. I'd say this recipe is barely edible, it leaves quite a nasty aftertaste. There are so many more delicious and simple ways to cook chicken that don't take nearly as much work as this recipe. Unless you lack taste buds, don't bother.

    • Kelly replied: — January 15th, 2012 @ 1:27 am

      Yeaaah, I wouldn't demote the entire recipe to “bad” because of your experience. Maybe it's a bit of a misjudgement to call it a recipe, but I used it as a general inspiration and all of mine have turned out deliciously. I'm sorry you had such a bad time with it, though.

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    Tim — December 21, 2011 at 2:04 am

    Excellent! There is one thing I add that may sound disgusting but adds an awesome layer of flavor. Before placing in the oven, eat approximately 8 to 12 oz.. of cream of mushroom soup and 1 can of creamed corn. Gently induce vomiting and coat the chicken. Like I said, it may sound bad, but the stomach acid tenderizes the chicken and gives it an extra bite. You may not want to tell your guests, but I guarantee they will love it!

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    SofaKingWeTodd it — January 26, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Please don't post a comment if you have not actually cooked this. Go play on Fox news with the rest of the drunks.

    • Tim replied: — January 31st, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

      You tell em ToddFaker! Grape seed oil, Catsford? Ha! And my Grandma 's got a bridge in London she'll sell ya. Grapes got juice!, not oil you dumbhead. Nice try though.

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    Tamara — February 23, 2012 at 12:21 am

    I tried this and am hooked! This is my favorite fried chicken recipe! My husband and I both love it. Who would have thought that fried chicken without the flour would be SOOO delicious.

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    Bridget — May 8, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    i'll b cookn this n jus a few, hope its good i got sum picky eaters to plz

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    Kile — June 14, 2012 at 1:51 am

    I found the same recipe in an issue of bon appetit, it is THE BEST, chicken verry crispey, and full of flavor, verry easy will not pnr roast chickin thighs any othert way.

    cooking tonight adding garlic, roesmarry & sage under the skin??

  25. #
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    Kile — June 14, 2012 at 2:30 am

    With the garlic, rosemary & sage under the skin, to Die For, added great flavor.

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    Braswell — June 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    So no flour? And can I use lard? It has no oil taste, no taste at all actually. Sounds good, I have a chicken brine goin now, gonna make it tonight.

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    Yon Vatch — July 31, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Thanks for every other fantastic post. Where else may just anybody get that type of info in such a perfect manner of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I am at the search for such information.

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    The Razor — August 2, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    I cooked this last last night, my wife and son loved and said they had not tasted chicken so good in years, definitely doing it again, I did mine with mushroom sauce. We live in Christchurch New Zealand at the bottom of the South Pacific and would love to hear from anyone in the Northern Hemisphere. gerry.mitt@xtra.co.nz

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    DT — August 25, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Excellent! I now use this technique to cook chicken for chicken salad, quesadillas, chicken pot pie, etc. So easy!!

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    KM — September 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Yikes! Had no idea it would come out so great! My boyfriend usually refuses to eat chicken thighs – but it was literally the only thing in our fridge. After trying it this way, he said he would never want to eat chicken any other way. Maybe I used a little too much salt and I also added some sage instead of rosemary – but amazing! Couldn’t ask for better skin! And so easy!

    Made it with a side of sauteed spinach w/ bacon and onions. YUM

    • Tessa replied: — September 23rd, 2012 @ 9:45 am

      I’m so glad you and your boyfriend enjoyed the chicken! Sage sounds like a wonderful autumn spin on this recipe :)

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    Jane — September 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    I love this recipe for many reasons. 1. No flour 2. Super easy 3. 1 Tbl. of oil! Recently I lost 50 pounds and this recipe gives me back fried chicken. When I first made it I made the mistake of using olive oil, I almost burned the place down. After making it several times now I feel I’ve worked everything out now and may never go back to regular fried chicken.

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    fresia fennig — January 11, 2013 at 6:53 am

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS RECIPE!!!!! I have seen the comments about being a bad or horrible recipe and I can see how it went wrong. First of all I have to say thank u on the idea of rosemary, sage, and garlic. I didnt see it until the thighs were in the oven but I said “it couldnt hurt” so sure thing I sprinkle all 3 on the chicken on both sides and it was pretty damn good. My husband is the pickest person and 1 he doesn’t eat chicken skin and 2 it was season to perfection and the cherry on top….he hates chicken thighs!!! Now to the bad expeience comments…. when I first started to cook n follow recipes I burn many things. I would think “2 minutes on each side” meant ” til I see fit or maybe 3 mins is better” when your frying and finishing it by oven it literally means 2 mins. Another suggestion that I had to learn the hard way was deciding, depending on what I was cooking, on what level to put my oven trays and unfortunately this only comes from using your oven and getting to know it. Im a military wife and we move constantly, this year alone we moved 3x and all were in the same apt complex so the appliances are all the same….and guess what???? All 3 ovens cooked different. And final note…I have to say, even though I did add the sage, rosemary n garlic powder at the end, the taste really comes from your cast iron. If u have not seasoned your cast iron nor use it all the time, I can see how it could be tasteless bc in the beginning, cooking in my cast iron took more than salt&pepper for the food to come out great…now I can literally fry in it without seasoning at all n the food comes out great. I hope Ive help some of you out bc I sure wished someone would have told me this when I started cooking n if not im sorry you had a bad experience. I love this recipe and it surely will be a repeat in my house

    • Tessa replied: — January 11th, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment! Isn’t it crazy how every oven and stovetop work differently? I have also had the same exact oven in two different houses and one cooks completely different than the other – it took weeks for me to get used to! I’m so happy you and your husband enjoyed the chicken :)

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    Dusty — January 11, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Tried this last night and loved it. Got the crisp without all the deep frying. Meat was so moist and tender! Looking forward to trying more of your recipes so glad to have found your site.

    • Tessa replied: — January 11th, 2013 @ 8:46 pm

      Thank you so much. I hope I can help make your life a little more tasty!

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    serrano — January 22, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    I made this tonight using organic chicken thighs and my husband told me it was the BEST chicken we have ever eaten in this house! we also sprinkled some lemon over it with the rosemary bc we love that lemon taste.

    What i DIDNT tell him was how EASY it is. With some crispy potatoes– this meal was perfection.

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    Tanya — February 1, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    I made this for dinner tonight and it made eating dark meat bearable. I only used the burner at medium high and than medium for the times given and my skin was a lot darker (almost burnt) but I like it that way better. Only commenting on that for others to be careful with the high and medium high temperature given above. It definitely would have made it inedible on my stovetop. I did put it in the oven for close to the temperature given at 450 and the meat temperature came out at over 170 degrees after the time as given above. I added a lot of varied seasonings and my chicken came out crispy outside and moist inside. Thanks for the tips!

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    Cat — February 25, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I’m totally perplexed by the comments where this recipe didn’t work out or tasted bad…I’ve been using this recipe once a month since I first saw it in the summer of 2011 and it’s perfect every time. Maybe the key is a perfectly seasoned cast iron…all I know is we eat it all the time and love it.

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    Fresia Fennig — February 26, 2013 at 7:08 am

    @Teresa….no problem! I and my very very very picky husband love this recipe….actually he loves it more than I do bc he can’t believe how good it is. We ate this last night and had company over and my girlfriend couldn’t believe how crispy and juicy it was and how quick it was, she watched me cook and was in disbelieve. Trying your chipotle salmon next so I will be giving feed back and once again……Thank you so much for this recipe…it will stay in my kitchen til i’m gray and wrinkle

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    Andrea — March 15, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    I have made this before and it turned out really well. When I went to make it tonight the chicken skin stuck so badly to the pan that it was ruined. I used a lot of oil so I don’t understand. Anyone know what I did wrong?

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    JT — March 30, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Absolutely amazing technique for chicken thighs, thinking of ways to actively improve this are somewhat difficult (and I am actually a pretty creative cook:) I definitely like the idea of adding garlic and sage to the mix with the rosemary, I think what might turn out really well is to take a bit of the rendered fat, mix in some pureed or finely mince garlic, use mortar and pestle to crush rosemary and sage, and mix into a baste. I would drizzle that over the skin upon first putting it in the over, and probably once more within the last two minutes.

    We did a couple of wee change-ups too…for example we did the initial upside down pan fry portion in EVOO, think next time I might use sunflower oil instead actually. I did a sea salt and pepper rub on the chicken before it hit the pan, and then once in we did add some rosemary and a light dash of smoked paprika. At the end of the pan fry portion we actually did drain off most of the rendered fat and oil (which is why I was thinking baste, because…well, yum for one and two – waste not). We bake in over from there pretty much as described, except at the end I kicked the temp up to 500 solid and flipped it to broil…2 minutes on broil, and then rest on the counter for 5 minutes. Probably THE best pan fried chicken I have ever had.

    Thanks so much for sharing the technique:)

    To Rose above – your smug is overpowering my ability to appreciate your feedback

    To Tim – dude, there are plenty of other ways that do not include THAT way to tenderize chicken…besides, sharing your stomach fauna is not really good form.

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    Jesse — April 18, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Tried this and came out perfect, making it again right now.

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    Jeffrey — April 24, 2013 at 5:39 am

    I had some chicken thighs to cook last night and had something like this technique in mind so I googled “seared chicken thighs finished in oven” and found this. I gotta say they were the best chicken thighs I’ve EVER cooked. My family agrees. Crispy skin, moist meat, not greasy (I did drain some of the chicken fat before putting it in the oven), and just plain delicious. Served it with some organic brown rice and green beans.
    I will be using this method often. Thank you!

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    Sarah — June 16, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Thank you for posting this method of frying chicken. We first tried it camping, over the campfire, with our trusty cast iron pan. Love at first bite! We eat this at least once a month, the skin is sooooo good, and the kids absolutely love it. Thanks for sharing :)

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    Jake — August 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Just wanted to say that I’ve made this recipe about 10 times and know it by heart now!

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    Alex — February 8, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    I’ve tried this recipe several times and each time we’ve burned the chicken. I’ve been using Ghee as the ‘oil’ since it’s the only oil that has a high enough smoke point to withstand the 475 degree oven temp. How can you cook chicken on its skin for 10 minutes on a medium-high stove, then 10 minutes in a hot oven and not have it burn? . . . am I missing something? What should I adjust: less time on the stove, lower oven temp, different oil? For those that used oil, isn’t there a culinary and health concern about cooking oil well past its smoke point?

    Thanks for feedback!

    • Tessa replied: — February 8th, 2014 @ 8:19 pm

      Hi Alex! I’m so sorry to hear you’ve had some difficulties. First let me say that all times given in the recipe are approximates, everyone’s stove and oven heat differently so it’s critical to pay close attention to the visual cues given (“until fat renders and skin is golden brown” and “until the skin is crisp”) in addition to the 165 °F internal temperature indication of doneness. Perhaps your chicken thighs are smaller than the ones I’ve used, or the others who have had more success with this recipe? I would try to lower the temperature on your stovetop since cast iron does get so darn hot and lessen the cooking time in the oven. Your oven may run hot too, so you might lower the temperature to 450°F. Do you have an ovenproof thermometer? I would poke the chicken meat (making sure the probe isn’t touching a bone) just before transferring the chicken to the oven and remove the chicken once it reaches 165°F. It may take less time for you to get to that point, and the thermometer will ensure perfection. Hope this helps!

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    Pam — February 9, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Made the chicken this evening, and I included two drumsticks and two wings. I also tossed in a few cloves of garlic, still in their skin. Everything was delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe. Your site is a great place to find new techniques.

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    Ben — August 30, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    couple of points….a recipe need not be full of ingredients and complications to taste good. I think meat is usually best cooked in a simple way….just like this!

    And be aware of your pans and your stove and how they interact. I think test kitchen has a video about how to know where medium high/high etc are on your stove by timing how long it takes to boil water. If you have trouble with the recipe…check your temps.

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