Anchovy Butter Chicken and Potatoes

published Oct 17, 2023
Dinner Therapist
Anchovy Butter Chicken Recipe

A tiny tin of anchovies is the secret to making the most flavorful skillet chicken dinner.

Serves4

Prep10 minutes

Cook25 minutes to 30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Anchovy butter chicken in skillet.
Credit: Kelli Foster

Dinner Therapist is my column dedicated to solving your dilemmas around the most important — but, let’s be honest, sometimes most dreaded — meal of the day. Prepping dinner night after night can be so hard. Here, I deliver practical and hopefully fun advice to make cooking less complicated and more enjoyable. Follow along for all the recipes. Got your own dinner struggles? We want to hear from you! Fill out this super-quick form for your chance to be featured in an upcoming column.

Welcome back to Dinner Therapist! Inexpensive pantry items are my number-one strategy for jazzing up basic dinners that I keep in regular rotation. One tiny twist can keep it from feeling like we’re eating the same thing on repeat week after week. Plus, it makes a Wednesday night dinner feel a little more special, if not kinda fancy. 

Chicken thighs and potatoes are in heavy rotation in my family’s meal plan. It’s an easy, reliable staple dinner that everyone enjoys. It’s also a simple meal that checks all the boxes: readily available, budget-friendly, and super versatile. 

Every week I have fun finding ways to make this otherwise basic dinner more interesting. My current favorite, anchovy butter chicken, involves tinned fish, which is a total flavor bomb. Here, a tiny tin of anchovies mixed with garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a squeeze of lemon turns crispy-skinned chicken thighs and creamy potato chunks into the most unbelievably flavorful dinner.

How to Make Anchovy Butter Chicken and Potatoes

  • Heat oven and boil pot of water. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425℉. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Melt anchovies. Add the full 2-ounce tin of anchovies to a hot, oil-slicked skillet, and as they cook, stir and mash the anchovies into a paste.
  • Sear chicken. You’ll melt a couple tablespoons of unsalted butter in the same skillet and place the seasoned chicken thighs skin-side down to sear. Be sure to let them cook undisturbed until they’re nicely browned.
  • Meanwhile, par-boil potatoes. At the same time, add the quartered potatoes to a pot of salted boiling water and cook until they’re knife-tender. When ready, drain well, removing as much water as possible. 
  • Sauté aromatics. Transfer the seared chicken to a plate (it won’t be fully cooked yet), and cook the minced garlic and red pepper flakes until fragrant.
  • Brown potatoes. Add the drained potatoes to the skillet, stir to coat, and cook until lightly browned. Remove the skillet from the heat.
  • Return chicken to skillet and finish in oven. Nestle the chicken thighs skin-side up into the potatoes. Add to the oven and roast until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Top with a squeeze of lemon. Squeeze 1/2 lemon over the finished chicken and potatoes. 
Credit: Kelli Foster

If You’re Making Anchovy Butter Chicken, a Few Tips

  • Leave the chicken alone while it sears. While it’s tempting to want to lift up the chicken thighs to check on them or move them around the pan, don’t. Let them cook totally undisturbed for at least eight minutes. You want them to be a deep brown color. If they’re not quite there, let them cook for another minute or two.
  • It’s okay to omit the red pepper flakes. If you don’t like any heat or you’re cooking for tiny eaters, it’s OK to leave out the pepper flakes. 
  • Drain the potatoes very well. You want to remove as much excess moisture as possible so it doesn’t splatter when it hits the hot oil in the skillet.

Anchovy Butter Chicken Recipe

A tiny tin of anchovies is the secret to making the most flavorful skillet chicken dinner.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes to 30 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    small Yukon gold potatoes (about 6)

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 4

    bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 pounds total)

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1

    (2-ounce) tin oil-packed anchovies

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 1/2

    medium lemon

  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 425ºF. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, quarter 1 1/2 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes. Mince 2 garlic cloves. Pat 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Season the chicken all over with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.

  2. Add the oil from 1 (2-ounce) tin anchovies to a large cast iron or other oven-safe skillet and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add the anchovies to the skillet. Cook, mashing with the back of a wooden spoon, until broken down to a paste, about 1 minute.

  3. Add 2 tablespoons unsalted butter. When the butter is melted, add the chicken skin-side down in a single layer. Cook undisturbed until the skin is browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add the potatoes to the boiling water and simmer until just fork tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the potatoes well to remove as much excess moisture as possible.

  4. Transfer the chicken to a plate skin-side up (it will not be fully cooked). Add the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are lightly browned in spots, 3 to 5 minutes.

  5. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices on the plate to the skillet, arranging the chicken skin-side up on the potatoes. Transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and registers at least 165°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part not touching bone, 10 to 15 minutes.

  6. Squeeze 1/2 medium lemon over the chicken and garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.