Sunday, September 26, 2021
Sept. 26, 2021

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How to cook chicken thighs, four ways

Delicious, rich piece of meat is incredibly versatile

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The bones and skin on chicken thighs lock in moisture and flavor, making them a particularly delicious piece of meat.
The bones and skin on chicken thighs lock in moisture and flavor, making them a particularly delicious piece of meat. (Kristen Mendiola/The Daily Meal; food styling by Shannon Kinsella) Photo Gallery

Let’s make a deal: No more dry, tough, bland chicken breasts for dinner. Instead, it’s time to embrace moist, flavorful dark meat chicken thighs.

Chicken thighs, readily available at most grocery stores with skin-on and bone-in, are an excellent value. Though price varies by region, these often sell at $2 per pound and can go as low as 89 cents per pound or less. The bones and skin lock in moisture and flavor, making chicken thighs a particularly delicious piece of meat. Use these convenient cuts in the oven, on the grill, in stews or in braises. You can also cook a bunch in advance to have delicious cooked chicken on hand for salads, sandwiches and quick meals.

If bone-in, skin-on meat isn’t your thing, boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a great option and might be the easiest protein to cook. Because of chicken thighs’ inherent moistness and rich flavor, they are nearly impossible to overcook. Pair the meat with bold flavors, spicy sauces or sweet barbecue. Chicken thighs are incredibly versatile, as these four very different recipes prove.

First, there is a basic roasted chicken thigh. Seasoned simply with salt and pepper, they are a great base for meal prepping. You can also add whatever seasonings you prefer or have on hand; garlic powder, paprika, Italian seasoning or lemon pepper all work wonderfully for a basic bone-in thigh.

Next, a sticky sesame-baked chicken will make you skip takeout or frozen dinners. Seriously, this recipe packs so much flavor into the chicken and the broccoli that it has become part of our weekly recipe rotation. The sesame sauce can be made up to a week in advance, really reducing preparation time. Purchase tomato paste in tubes for easy measuring and storage. Check the international section of most large supermarkets for black bean garlic sauce. If you can’t find it, don’t stress; substitute hoisin sauce, sambal oelek or more tomato paste and sriracha.

Supper club-inspired chicken with artichokes and cream makes a luxurious (yet easy) weekday meal. Fresh thyme and grated lemon rind blend with cream and reduced wine for an elegant sauce bold enough for chicken thighs.

If you’re still in a grilling mood, tucking chicken thighs into a foil pack yields moist results with no fuss. Season the chicken with a special blend of curry powder, cider vinegar and raisins. Adding potatoes to the pack makes it a great casual supper.

Basic Roasted Chicken Thighs

Prep: 5 minutes, Cook: 25 minutes. Makes 6 servings

Here is a great go-to recipe for all your cooked chicken needs. Make this once and you will skip purchasing rotisserie chicken! Seasoned and cooked on the bone under its own skin, the chicken turns out moist every time.

4-6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)

1 tablespoon expeller-pressed canola oil, safflower or sunflower oil

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees on convection setting or 375 degrees on conventional setting.

Pat chicken thighs dry and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and turn to coat all the pieces with the oil. Sprinkle generously on both sides with salt and pepper.

Roast, rotating the pan once or twice until juices run clear when you pierce a thigh near the bone, about 25 minutes. Serve hot. Or cool and refrigerate for up to several days to use shredded or chopped in salads, sandwiches, rice bowls, enchiladas, etc.

Sticky Sesame-baked Chicken With Broccoli and Rice

Prep: 25 minutes, Cook: About 1 hour. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

For the sesame sauce:

3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

3 tablespoons agave syrup

11/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon black bean garlic sauce

1 tablespoon Sriracha

1 tablespoon refrigerated ginger puree (or grated fresh ginger)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

For the chicken:

3 medium-size carrots (8 ounces) peeled, sliced into 1/4-inch-wide circles

2 tablespoons expeller pressed canola oil, safflower oil or sunflower oil

4-6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)

4 cups (10 ounces) broccoli florets

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

3 cups hot cooked white or brown rice

Chopped fresh cilantro and green onions for serving

For the sesame sauce:

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate covered up to 1 week.

For the chicken:

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Toss carrots with 1 tablespoon of the oil on a large rimmed baking sheet. Add chicken thighs to the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Add 10 ounces broccoli florets to the baking sheet and toss with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Return to the oven and roast until chicken juices run clear and broccoli is almost tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Spoon the sauce over chicken and vegetables. Stir to coat everything nicely. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Roast, stirring vegetables once, until glazed, 10 to 15 minutes.

Pile chicken and vegetables over cooked rice; spoon pan juices overall. Sprinkle generously with cilantro and green onions.

Sauteed Chicken Thighs With Artichokes and Lemon Cream

Prep: 20 minutes, Cook: 20 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Notes: Serve this with cooked spaetzle or orzo.

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 1 1/4 pounds

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 large shallots or 1 small white onion, finely chopped

11/2 cups thinly sliced white or cremini mushrooms

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/8 teaspoon dried

1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained, halved

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind

Chopped flat leaf parsley

Pat chicken thighs dry; season generously with salt and pepper.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add olive oil and butter. Add chicken in a single, uncrowded layer, using a splatter guard if you have one. Cook chicken without turning for 4 minutes. Flip and cook to brown the other side, 3-4 minutes. Use tongs to transfer chicken to a plate.

Stir shallots and sliced mushrooms into pan juices. Cook over medium heat until shallots are softened, about 3 minutes. Add wine and increase heat to high. Boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, to reduce pan juices by half. Add cup cream and heat to boil. Cook until the sauce thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Season with thyme, salt and pepper.

Add chicken and 14 ounces artichoke pieces to the pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer to heat everything through, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon rind and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Curried Chicken Roasting Packs

Prep: 25 minutes, Cook: 40 minutes. Makes 6 servings

4 medium-size red or gold potatoes, scrubbed, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 medium-size sweet onion, halved, thinly sliced

1/4 cup dark raisins

2 cloves garlic, crushed

11/2 tablespoons curry powder or garam masala

Salt

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, 11/4 to 11/2 pounds

Freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Chopped fresh cilantro or chives, for serving

Lime wedges and plain yogurt, for serving

Mix scrubbed, cut potatoes, onion, raisins and crushed garlic in a large bowl. Add curry powder and 1 teaspoon salt; toss to coat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

Preheat a gas grill or prepare a charcoal grill to medium heat or heat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut three 18-inch lengths of aluminum foil and stack two of them on top of each other. Put 3 chicken thighs on the foil. Top with half of the potato mixture. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Cover with a third sheet of foil and crimp the edges to enclose everything in a neat package. Repeat to make a second pack.

Place foil packs on the grill directly over the heat maintaining a temperature of 350 degrees. Or place on a baking sheet in the hot oven. Cook (no need to flip packages, but rotate them occasionally) for 40 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Open packet and spoon contents into a serving bowl. Serve topped with cilantro. Pass lime wedges and yogurt at the table.

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