I am very proud of myself today, I went outside of my culinary comfort zone and cooked with a cast iron skillet. You may be thinking, what's the big deal about cooking with cast iron. Well it's a huge deal to me and for many reasons. Number one being, my food always sticks to it...and yes, my pan is properly seasoned. The second reason, is cleaning it, ugh a royal pain in the you know what! Plus, they are darn heavy…I feel like I'm going to break a wrist whenever I have to lift one of those pans. For these reasons, I've stayed away from cast iron skillets for years.
Dave on the other hand, loves cast iron and can't use it enough. I always say that he is the grill master and the cast iron master. He make some serious magic in that cast iron pan. Like his Cast Iron Chicken Thighs with Thyme Recipe (Click here for his recipe) I sit there and watch him and wish I could create with such magic like he does. He makes it seems so easy. He will use cast iron any chance chance he can especially to get a crispy golden crust on foods like chicken or fish. He loves the perfect sear it makes on steak. Cooking potatoes is another favorite of his to make in the cast iron pan. My mom has a cast iron pan that she's been using since I was very young. In fact shortly before my grandmother Brigid passed away she gave me her cast iron pan. They obviously last forever and create amazing results for everyone except me!
For whatever reason I decided to use the cast iron skillet for my meal tonight. Trust me, this wasn't easy decision because that's all I wanted to do was use my tried and true Calphalon skillet, especially knowing my chicken thighs would turn out perfectly. So I took out our largest cast iron pan and yes, almost broke a wrist. I placed the pan over a medium to high heat and added 1/4 cup of olive oil. I generously seasoned the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and placed them skin down into the hot oil. The chicken screamed, yes screamed once I put them facedown in the hot oil. My thought was, oh gosh they are burning and the clean-up of the pan is going to be a nightmare! Dave always says let them scream, really sizzle, and don't touch them for at least 7 minutes. So I waited and began prepping the mushroom cream sauce. I kept wanting to peek at the bottom of the chicken. So I did, and of course the chicken was sticking like I had used super glue as my oil. Taking Dave's advice I let them cook longer. After another couple of minutes I checked again and walla, my chicken easily lifted from the pan creating a beautiful golden sear to the skin! I was like, YES, I did this, I created an amazing looking piece of chicken in the cast iron pan! Just as I was pulling the chicken out of the pan Dave came home and said "Oh my gosh, YOU are cooking with cast iron?" I replied "Yep, and wait until you try this dish…Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce over Chicken Thighs."
After I set the chicken aside on a platter, I continued to make my wild mushroom cream sauce. I was excited about successfully using cast iron, but I was probably more excited about making this amazing cream sauce in the cast iron. The pan had a lot of chicken bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. There was plenty of oil left so I poured most of it out and left the bits of chicken that were all stuck to the bottom. I added 2 tb of butter and added the wild mushrooms and leeks and let them sauté. I could see all of the bits lifting from the pan. Then I added 1/2 cup of white wine and was amazed because my cast iron skillet seemed as though it would be very easy to clean once the dish was done. I let the wine absorb into the mushrooms and leeks and then added the rest of the ingredients to make the cream sauce. Adding cream cheese is the key to making this dish extra creamy and thick. The fresh tarragon, thyme, and parsley added the most amazing aroma. Once the sauce was complete I added the chicken back in the skillet and cooked it in the oven for 20 minutes. When I took it out of the oven, the chicken was cooked through and the skin was sizzling with juice and the sauce was creamy and thick. We couldn't wait to eat it.
The mushrooms cream sauce was delicious and went really well with the chicken thighs. This sauce can also be served over steak, pork tenderloin or fish. Dave loves this wild mushroom cream sauce over salmon. You could also just simply serve this sauce over egg noodles or pasta. Even though I made this recipe in the cast iron skillet you do not have to. Just make sure to use a skillet that is oven proof. I've made this recipe before in a regular sauté pan and it turned out just as good, well almost as good! Nothing beats a seared meat in a cast iron pan.
Dave may still be the master at cast iron cooking, but watch out because I'm not afraid to use cast iron anymore! I may be the next master! Salute to overcoming my cast iron fears and making the most amazing Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce over Chicken Thighs!
|Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce over Chicken Thighs|
|Sauteing chicken thighs skin down|
|Golden crispy skin, ready to be set aside|
|Saute wild mushrooms and leeks with wine wine|
|Add heavy cream, half n half and cream cheese|
|Add tarragon, thyme, parsley and let cook until it |
bubbles and thicken
|Just out of the oven|
|Delicious and satisfying alone or add it over pasta|
Preparation and cook time: 1 hour
- 8 chicken thighs, with skin on and bone-in
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- kosher salt and pepper
For mushroom cream sauce:
- 8 ounces of sliced and cleaned wild mushrooms, shiitake, oyster, white, and baby bella
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks or onion
- 2 tb butter
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup half n half
- 4 ounces of cream cheese
- 1 tb fresh tarragon minced
- 1 tb fresh thyme
- 1 tb fresh parsley
Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a cast iron skillet or an oven proof skillet, add 1/4 cup olive oil over medium to high heat. Generously salt and pepper chicken thighs. Place chicken skin side down in oil. It will sizzle, but let cook for 7 minutes or until chicken can easily be turned over. The skin will be golden and crispy. Let cook skin side up for an additional 5 minutes. Set chicken aside on a platter. For sauce: Remove excess oil from pan, keeping chicken bits. Over medium heat add butter, mushrooms and leeks. Saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add white wine and let absorb into mushrooms and leeks for about 5 minutes. Add heavy cream and half n half until cream is becoming thickened. Turn down heat to medium low. Add cream cheese and stir until melted. Add tarragon, thyme, and parsley and salt n pepper and gently stir. Add chicken breasts back to cream sauce in skillet. Bake in oven for 15 - 20 minutes until chicken is crispy and cream sauce is thickened and bubbly. Serve chicken with mushroom cream sauce alone or with egg noodles or pasta.
Nate: "This chicken is a-mazing! The skin is so crispy and buttery tasting." Before he sat down to eat he immediately pulled the skin off at ate it in one bite!
Tyler: "This is so tender and juicy. I don't even love mushrooms but this sauce is super yummy."
Zachary: "I want a ton of this chicken its so good mom."
Dave: "I am so impressed that you used the cast iron skillet. You did awesome. I would've crisped the chicken a tad more though. The cream sauce is amazing and super velvety. It's a rich creamy sauce but doesn't taste too heavy. This dish is a winner."
Andrea: I am super excited that I mastered the cast iron and can't wait to use it again. My food didn't burn or stick to the pan and the clean up was a snap. What a difference when properly using cast iron. The dish itself was superb. The mushroom sauce was absolutely delicious. You could really use this cream sauce over anything, even chicken breasts or pasta. Such a great winter meal too.