Classic Soubise on Crispy Chicken
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Soubise becomes a derivative from the mother béchamel sauce, simply by adding white onion and pulsing until creamy. With a texture between that of a puree and a smooth sauce, soubise has a refined sweetness that pairs well with almost any type of meat. I served mine over crispy chicken thighs on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes and blanched broccoli.
Béchamel sauce is traditionally made by creating a white roux and whisking in milk or cream until smooth. While a roux is not required for this recipe, it will certainly add depth and thickness to the soubise. The addition of the onions is what makes the béchamel into a soubise, and I added a pinch of cayenne pepper and a sprinkle of parsley for some added flavor.
Melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet then add the chicken thighs skin-side down. Don’t flip the chicken, but when the skin is nice and browned, transfer the chicken, uncooked side down, onto a foil lined baking sheet. Pour the remaining butter in the skillet over the chicken, then pop into the oven for 25-30 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, add two tablespoons of butter into a clean skillet, then toss in the sliced onions.
The key to a pearly white soubise is sautéing the onions until softened, but not caramelized. A low, steady heat for about fifteen minutes should do the trick, all while stirring frequently so the onions don’t start to brown.
When the onions have become transluscent, pour in the heavy cream and bring to a simmer until the heavy cream has thickened.
Carefully transfer the onions to a food processor or blender and pulse until a smooth sauce has formed, about five minutes. For an extra creamy sauce, strain the sauce through a fine sieve (this is totally optional!).
While the onions are blending, add the remaining butter into a cleaned skillet and melt until frothy. This step is to create a white roux, but feel free to skip the roux if you are looking to make a simpler sauce.
Melt the butter and quickly whisk in the flour. When a smooth roux has formed, after about thirty seconds of mixing, pour in the blended onions and stir into the roux until the sauce has thickened. Simmer until the soubise has reduced in volume by about half. If the sauce gets too thick, stir in an additional tablespoon or two of heavy cream.
About this time the chicken will be ready. It should reach an internal temperature, along the bone, of 170°F. The skin will be nice and bubbly crisp, and the meat should be practically falling off the bone.
I served my chicken on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes and blanched broccoli. I cheated a little bit and added a sprinkle of cayenne pepper on top of the soubise, just for an extra kick.
Classic Soubise on Crispy Chicken
- 4 skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 ½ cups white onion
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- fresh parsley for topping
- cayenne pepper for topping, optional
- salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place one tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Sear the chicken thighs, skin down, until the skin is browned and crispy – about three minutes. Do not flip the chicken. Place the chicken, uncooked side down, on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake for 25 minutes.
- While the chicken bakes, melt two tablespoons of butter in a clean pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and sauté until softened, about fifteen minutes, but take care not to caramelize the onions. Stir until the volume of onions has reduced by half.
- Pour in the heavy cream and bring to a simmer for about five minutes. Transfer the onions and cream to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. For a refined sauce, carefully strain through a sieve (optional).
- As the onions and heavy cream are blending, clean the pan then add the remaining butter along with the flour. Stir into a roux, then add the creamy onion mixture. Let the sauce simmer until the chicken is ready, about five more minutes. The chicken will be ready when the internal temperature reaches 170°F.
- Serve chicken right away along with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper as desired. Generously pour the soubise over the top of the crispy chicken and potatoes.