A soothing one-dish autumn meal that is perfect for your dinner party or holiday. The chicken thighs and pumpkin are baked in a rich honey mustard sauce until tender inside and crispy on the surface.
I am obsessed with cooking chicken and my favorite part is the crispy skin. No matter whether I’m cooking chicken on the grill, on the stove, or in the oven, my first choice will be a skin-on cut. And I always try my best to cook it until the skin is properly crispy.
The method in the recipe below guarantees super crispy chicken skin with a few simple steps. The logic is like this. You gently cook the chicken on the stovetop first, so that the fat renders from the skin. Then you bake the chicken in the oven at a low temperature, so that the inside is cooked through. And then turn on the broiler to further cook the surface until perfectly crispy.
Different from the usual “low temp first and broiler later” approach, the first step of this recipe is to grill the chicken on the stovetop – this is very important. It allows the skin to render tons of fat without cooking the meat of the chicken too much. Without this step, you will get fairly crispy chicken skin, but will still notice a bit of soggy fat underneath the surface. On the other hand, using my method will take just five extra minutes to cook the dish perfectly. The finished skin will be paper thin with a very clean and crisp mouthfeel.
Plus, you will get quite a bit of chicken fat from this step. You can either discard the fat, if you want your dish to be a bit skinnier, or you can use a bit of the fat to cook the veggies (like I did), in order to create an even more scrumptious sauce.
When I serve this dish, I prefer to add some green salad on the side, and drizzle a spoonful of the honey mustard sauce onto it. It makes a great tasting warm salad instantly!
- 1 small pumpkin (about 2 pounds), peeled and seeded.
- 5 pieces skin-on bone-in chicken thigh
- Sea salt and pepper
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 3/4 white wine (or chicken stock)
- 1/3 cup Dijon mustard (I prefer to use whole grain mustard)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme)
- (Optional) 2 tablespoons heavy cream (or milk)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pumpkin for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Dry chicken thoroughly with paper towel. Place chicken in a large ovenproof skillet without overlapping, skin side up. Generously season with salt and black pepper. Flip and season the other side.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Turn burner to medium heat. Cook the skin side until the color turns light yellow and it renders a lot of chicken fat, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for 1 minute. Transfer to a big plate.
- Save 1 tablespoon chicken fat in the skillet. Transfer the rest to a small bowl.
- Add onion and garlic to the same skillet. Cook over medium heat until the onion is slightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add white wine. Using a spatula, scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet.
- Bring to a simmer and cook until you can no longer smell alcohol fumes, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off heat.
- Add Dijon mustard, honey, dried thyme, heavy cream, and 1/3 cup water to the skillet. Stir to mix well.
- Spread the pumpkin slices in the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Return chicken thighs to skillet, on top of the pumpkin without overlapping, skin side up.
- (Optional) Drizzle a tablespoon of chicken fat (from cooking the thighs) onto the pumpkin slices.
- Bake until the thermometer reads 165 degrees F when probing the thickest part of the thigh, 35 to 40 minutes.
- Turn on broiler. Leave the skillet in the oven while the oven heats up. Bake until the skin turns golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. The oven temperature won’t reach 550 F in the end, but it will be high enough to char and crisp the chicken.
- Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with your preferred green salad, if desired.