I used to hate chicken, but not too long ago I realized the true beauty of perfectly roasted, moist dark meat with an oven crisped skin. I think I got used to going out and having dry, dull, under seasoned, boneless, skinless chicken breast. I know there are reasons for eating white meat – and congrats to all of those out there who put up with it for the sake of health. But I can’t do it. It’s sooooo boring! So, I go for the dark meat only – always bone-in, skin-on thighs. The best part of the bird.
I also love hearty, chunky, herbacious comdiments for any meat – chimichurri, gremolata, variations of persillade – so on and so forth. Lucky for this recipe, chicken just happens to lend itself very well to all of these.
It’s important to note that when added before cooking, the flavor of your condiment will mellow out pretty significantly in the cooking process. In this particular recipe, that’s exactly what you want.
Barely a Gremolata
- 1/2 bunch parsley (preferably flat leaf)
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 3-4 medium sized garlic cloves
- 3.5 Tablespoons capers
- 1.5 Tablespoons chopped green olives, or prepared tapenade
- 2 anchovy fillet, very small dice
- 1 teaspoon chili flake
- pinch of dried thyme (app. tiny palmful)
- extra virgin olive oil
- splash of white wine
- dried oregano, reserved
- extra pinch dried red chili flakes, reserved
- salt and pepper
Pulse all the items, except olive oil, reserved oregano, chili and the salt and pepper together in a food processor. Once all the ingredients have been coarsely chopped and fairly well mixed, (about 5 pulses) slowly add extra virgin olive oil and continue pulsing to blend. The consistency should be fairly coarse and oily, similar to a chimichurri or Italian salsa verde.
Next, pack a ceramic or glass baking dish with a well buttered bottom tightly with 4 skin-on chicken thighs and 3-4 quartered red potatoes. Be sure to very lightly salt and pepper both sides of the chicken, salt and pepper the potatoes. Lightly sprinkle everything with the reserved pinch of dried oregano and chili flakes.
Once marinated, add 5 or so small pats of room temperature butter directly on top of the potatoes and chicken, cover baking dish with tin foil and slide into a pre-heated 400 degree oven.
Check every 10 minutes or so and, using a baster or large spoon, redistribute the melted butter and juices that will accumulate on the bottom of the dish. After 20-25 minutes, remove the foil and replace the uncovered dish in the oven to start browning the skin.
Check their doneness with a meat thermometer, or just cut a small slit into one thigh to check. If using a thermometer, it should be around 165. The higher the temp, the dryer the meat will be.
While you’re waiting for your chicken to cook, make a quick salad that will compliment the flavors of the chicken.
Super Simple Dressing
- Fresh lemon juice (use the lemons you just zested)
- Olive oil
- Whole grain brown mustard
- Dried oregano
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Use an basic ratio of 2 parts olive oil to 1 part mustard, 1/2 part lemon juice, adjusting to taste. Add oregano, salt and pepper to taste and whisk if mixing in a bowl or shake furiously if mixing in a jar or bottle (my preference).
(Note: If you’re not doing it already, save your small jars from jam and whatnot or your small glass bottles with a top from products like Strauss Family Creamery heavy cream. They make fantastic dressing bottles to mix and store. Also, places like Big Lots and 99cent stores are great. I got a package of picnic ketchup and mustard bottles for $1 and I use them all the time for homemade condiments of all kinds.)
Toss together a mix of torn lettuces, any mixed salad greens you have around. Thinly slice some carrots and radishes. Toss together with the greens and have ready to dress when chicken is done.
Plate the juicy chicken with the potatoes and a side salad and enjoy!
(oh, ps: Use any leftovers for a fantastic chicken sandwich! Mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, some greens and left over salad veggies for a crunch. Pull the chicken and skin right off the bone and mix it all up together. Serve between 2 slices of buttered, mayo-ed toasted bread and left over potatoes on the side.)