Are you one of the millions of individuals who suffer from F.O.F. (Fear of Frying)? Has it become so bad that even pan-frying inspires a certain level of fear and disdain? Do you eschew recipes because your F.O.F. does not allow you to partake in ones that call for items to be fried? Have you reluctantly accepted that treats such as fries and tempura will never emerge from your kitchen, still piping hot and crispy-edged?
Unfortunately there is no confirmed treatment for F.O.F. (ummm…except for the obvious choice of JUST GETTING OVER IT ALREADY, but understandably that approach is wildly unhelpful for some). Until a cure is discovered though, you have this recipe.
While not being a true substitute for fried chicken (because until you get over your F.O.F. that shit ain’t coming out of your kitchen), this recipe mimics the salty crunch that many people with F.O.F. have missed for too long, with the added bonus of easy clean-up and no used oil to dispose of (truly that is the worst part of overcoming F.O.F., embracing the oil cleanup). It also lends itself well to an easy weeknight dinner situation and you can throw endless vegetable combinations into the mix if you feel like being an adult. My preferred variation is chucking some skinny spears of asparagus amongst the potatoes during the last 10 minutes of cooking, but green beans, cherry tomatoes, or any other quick-cooking veg would also work provided you adjust the time they spend in the oven as needed.
Sheet-Pan Unfried Chicken
Roughly adapted from David Tamarkin (Epicurious)
6-8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 lb baby potatoes (I like the assorted ones as it throws a bit of colour into the dish)
5 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
¾ tsp cumin
10 sprigs fresh thyme or oregano
Start by being a badass and deboning your chicken thighs. Wait, no, don’t leave – it’s so easy!! Check out this video that Bon Appetit made to help you out! If you’re still glaring at the screen and shaking your head then just get your butcher to do it, but make sure those skins stay intact. If you decided to do this yourself, reserve and freeze the bones for future stock purposes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and place a rack in the top 1/3 of it. Cut the potatoes in half (quartering any particularly large ones), trimming off any nasty bits. Grab 2 medium bowls and place your halved potatoes in 1 and the deboned thighs in the other. Pour 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp kosher salt, ½ tsp pepper, and the cumin over the potatoes and toss well to coat. Pour the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp kosher salt, and ½ tsp pepper over the chicken thighs and toss gently to coat.
Spread the potatoes in a single layer over a large lined baking sheet. Lay the chicken thighs skin-side-up over the potatoes. Tuck the sprigs of thyme or oregano between the chicken and potatoes. Roast on the top rack of the oven for 35-50 minutes, until the chicken has rendered its fat and become beautifully crisp. The potatoes should be golden-brown and tender. I find that I need to leave my chicken in for closer to 50 minutes, but all ovens are different. You definitely want to make sure that the chicken skin has left behind all of its rubberiness and feels hard to the touch (that’s what she said….sorry, I’m re-watching The Office).
Serve immediately alongside plenty of crusty bread and a lightly dressed salad. To re-heat leftovers (good luck having any of those), place the chicken and potatoes in a 350 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes.