Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs

For years chicken has always eluded me. There was something I just didn’t like, couldn’t wrap my head around. Moist, dry… all the same I just didn’t like the taste. Granted, when I ate chicken it was mostly some big name brand chicken from the supermarket, all white meat and usually precut into individual servings. I thought it would be healthy, but healthy doesn’t cut it if it doesn’t taste right. And then I took a cooking class where we roasted a whole chicken. And I discovered dark meat… and have been sold ever since.

I do eat more white meat now, especially since my fancy market sells breasts with the bone on- but chicken breasts can be so unnecessarily expensive. Thighs are super cheap (like under $2-3 for 3 pieces of organic, humanely raised, hormone free… probably still cheaper to buy the whole chicken but I am just 1 small girl watching her weight), are automatic portion control due to their size and it takes a lot to really screw them up. The meat is tender, better tasting (to me) and while some people may be scared off by the fact that they come skin on, if that really bothers you then don’t be afraid to get a little dirty and just remove it.
I’m one of those that love the skin on. So I compromise. Chicken thighs are tiny so I’ll only eat one. And when I roast it in the oven I’ll put them on a rack above a pan to catch the drippings, so then the chicken isn’t cooking in its own rendered fat. And lest you think they’ll be totally dry and tasteless, I’ve recently found if you put a thin slice of lemon beneath the skin, it’ll help keep the meat tender, the lemon juices cooking and dripping over the meat imparting a lovely sharp citrus flavor. And even if you are trying to be healthy and plan to take the skin off, do it after it cooks, as the skin provides a covering to keep the lemon in place on top without totally scorching it. After it cooks you can simply remove the lemon and the skin if you like, but I’m one of those weirdos that could eat a lemon slice whole. This recipe has been great for these spring days when all I want is something light, lovely and Mediterranean flavored. Paired with everything from warm chickpea salad to a simple quinoa pilaf to green thai curry, it's the perfect dinner.

Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs
3 chicken thighs- or however many you need to feed your family 
3 very thin slices of lemon
½ Tbl. olive oil
Salt and pepper

Optional: oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, etc. Just rub a small portion of these herbs over the skin and a little beneath lemon and the meat.

           1.   Preheat the oven to 425. Set a baking rack above a pan lined with aluminum foil to catch the drippings. Pat the thighs as dry as possible with paper towels and place the lemon slices beneath the skin. Salt and pepper the chicken and add whatever herbs if you choose to do that. Rub the olive oil over the chicken (I use just a scant amount to keep them from sticking) and place on the racks.
      2. Cook for 30-35 minutes or until juices run clear and the skin on top is browned and crispy. Let rest for
      10 minutes and then serve.

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