Last week, we noted that chicken-thigh recipes were turning up everywhere, making them the It Piece of Spring. Of course, you already knew that chicken thighs are where it's at. And we kinda guessed that would be the case (leg men, every last one of you), so we asked for your favorite preparation. You did not disappoint. Here are your best (and perhaps lightly edited) recipes:
Get the absolute cheapest Creole or Cajun or Memphis dry rub you can find - the dollar store stuff is pretty wonderful, actually - and go 1:1 with brown sugar.
A dozen chicken thighs in a gallon storage bag dry-marinated in two cups of the sugar/seasoning overnight in the fridge CANNOT be fucked up by anyone, whether you pan-fry (medium heat with a bit of peanut oil to brown up the skin), broil (500 degrees for about five minutes on each side), bake (300 degrees covered for 45 minutes and uncovered for that last 15) or grill (indirect hot-ass-coals just until juices run clear) the thighs, regardless of skill.
Get some of your bone-in thigh quarters—however many you can comfortably rest on the bottom of your dutch oven—pat them dry, salt and pepper 'em, and set 'em aside. Now would be a good time to put your oven on. Go with like 350. That seems like a good temperature.
Then take your blender and purée some tomatillos, jalapenos (for heat), poblanos (for flavor), a fuckton of garlic, some onions, some cilantro (shut the fuck up the cilantro makes this fresh and delicious and you'll barely taste it. If you still insist on whining, replace it with parsley) [ed.: Be kind to the cilantro deniers, they cannot help that their mouths reject the taste, it's a genetic thing], the juice of a couple limes and salt and pepper. If you want it really delicious roast all of that stuff [ed.: the peppers] for like 20 minutes on 450 (or whatever blackens the skins) before you purée.
Take your dutch oven, and throw some oil in there and heat it up. Once it's shimmery put your chicken thighs in there skin down, and flip once after like 5 minutes and cook that shit for another 5 minutes. Pour that salsa over the top with a half a can of tecate so that it's not quite covering the chicken.
Put some foil over the top, and then the lid, and throw it in the oven for an hour or so.
Take it out, and the chicken should be more or less falling off the bone. Serve it over Spanish rice, or whatever, maybe in tacos. It doesn't matter because it'll be delicious. If you want to be lazy go to the Mexican aisle of the grocery and get some good salsa (don't you dare try with with some Wise brand salsa) and it'll work as well, and save you some time.
From I Still Dream
Adapted from a Marcella Hazan recipe:
Shred half a head of red cabbage in a food processor, and sautee it, a finely-chopped onion, and four quartered garlic cloves with a generous application of olive oil in the largest frying pan you have. After a couple minutes, cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low, and let cook for 20 mins.
In a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottom pan, brown four chicken thighs on both sides. Add the cabbage on top, along with two bay leaves, a pinch of dry thyme, a generous amount of salt and black pepper, and a cup of red wine. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook another 40 mins. The chicken thighs will be tender and rich and falling off the bone, and the cabbage dissolves into a thick sauce that clings to the meat. Serve as-is with crusty bread, or shred the meat off the bones and serve atop egg noodles.
Here's a recipe for charcoal slow-cooked chicken thighs:
5lb bag of thigh/leg quarters (thawed if frozen)
1/2 pint vegetable oil
1 pint apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
5 tbs salt (I know it's a lot, shut up)
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp poultry seasoning
Mix everything together but the chicken thighs in a stainless steel pot or plastic bowl. You will need a sauce mop or a basting brush for this sauce. The charcoal should be 10-12 inches from chicken, if using a charcoal grill with a thermometer, 225 degrees is what you're shooting for.
Place thawed chicken thigh/leg quarters on heated grill skin side up. Cook for 30 minutes or so, and flip. Take the sauce and mop all the chicken pieces on the grill with the sauce you made. Mop heavy, mop often.... Let the chicken go for another 30 minutes or so. You will want to continue this process of 30 mins on one side, flip and mop for about 3-4 hours. If you don't have 3-4 hours to do chicken like this, you're too busy.
Remember, every time you flip, mop. The sauce will run off when you mop the skin side, but it doesn't matter, what are you going to do with the mop sauce anyways? The schedule of 30 mins, flip, and mop should also be adjusted if your chicken is cooking too fast. Don't be dumb, if it's burning, move it some where cooler on the grill.
By now the grill should be ready to start the chicken, so lube it up and toss the chicken skewers on. Pour reserved marinade into shallow dish. Place vegetable skewers into the dish and give them a spin, making sure to get as much of the veggies coated as possible without stressing too much about it.
- 1 large package boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 4 squarish pieces per thigh
- 1 large tub greek yogurt (unflavored)
- Aleppo pepper (smoked paprika will work if you can't find the aleppo)
- Black pepper (fine ground for the marinade, fresh cracked for finishing)
- Salt (table for marinade, kosher/sea salt for finishing)
- Cayenne pepper
- Assorted veggies deemed acceptable for skewering
Toss veggie skewers on grill. Chicken should be ready to flip at this point, so flip them. Squeeze lemon juice over all skewers. Flip veggies. Crack open a beer for yourself. Have people set the picnic table. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper and sea salt. Done.
Mix entire contents of yogurt tub with the spices and the juice of 1 lemon. Spice ratio is as such, in respective order: 4:1:1:1:1:1 (Tablespoons for each.) Reserve 1 cup of marinade and refrigerate. Add thigh pieces and remaining 3+ cups of marinade to a large Ziploc bag, ensure all pieces of chicken are covered/submerged, seal, and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.
Heat up grill to medium-high heat. Put chicken on to skewers, leaving space between each piece, average about 4 pieces per normal sized wooden skewer. Use two skewers per kebab to make flipping easier. Skewer vegetables on to their own skewers in the same manner.
Those were great, but more involved than what some of you are willing to go in for. How about some quickies? Sure, we've got some of those for you!
Rub generously with Chinese Five Spice Powder under the skin and on skin. Drizzle some olive oil on top. Bake at 350. BOOM.
Glass baking dish—rub with olive oil, fresh thin sliced garlic cloves, steak seasoning. Set oven to 350. Bake 25-30 minutes.
Personal favorite preparation? Get some boneless, skinless thighs, cut 'em into pieces, bread 'em, deep fry* a farm's worth of 'em, stick 'em in a paper paint bucket, pop 'em in obscene quantities while watching League Pass.
*I'm partial to a T-Fal model fryer I've owned since the Bush administration, but a heavy Dutch oven Alton Brown-style works too.
My favorite way to prepare them is either grilling after a simple marinade of olive oil, lemon juice and zest, Dijon mustard, and thyme, or to make chicken adobo.
And there you have it! Here's to hoping that the sharing of these delicious-sounding recipes more than makes up for the fact that chicken-thigh demand is about to send the prices of these heretofore cheap cuts sky-high.
Illustration by Sam Woolley.