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In Praise of Thighs

It is a shame that boneless-skinless chicken breasts are the go-to chicken for most people, rather than the far superior (in my estimation) bone-in, skin on,chicken thighs. I think there are a number of reasons for this, and none of them have anything to do with flavor. Some people can’t deal with chicken bones (or any other bones in meat or fish). When did we get so squeamish? Some people say they prefer white meat, though I can’t imagine why, it has less flavor, and gets dried out too easily. Many people prefer the low-fat qualities of chicken breast, again sacrificing flavor…  I wonder what people do with the dark meat on their rotisserie chickens? Do they eat it, make salad or soup, or discard it? Maybe they feed it to their dogs.  If you are a chicken breast only person, I ask you to consider the humble and underrated chicken thigh.

fried thighs

Chickens and turkeys, unlike ducks have white and dark meat. Meat in birds darkens when the animals use their muscles. Ducks are all dark meat because they fly, which chickens and turkeys do not. It is true that thighs are much higher in fat,  but they are also high in taurine, and may offer more health benefits than you think. I think chicken breast meat is great for chicken salad, chicken soup, and  is perfect for pot-pie, but to make them delicious, you need to add back all the fat you gave up by passing by those chubby thighs. 

chicken thighs

You may be getting ready to have an argument with me, claiming your balsamic grilled chicken breasts really are yummy, but save your breath. They may be just fine, but use that same recipe with thighs, then get back to me on which is tastier. Dark meat of the chicken is more flavorful than white meat, in the same way duck breast is more flavorful than chicken breast.  It has done some work, and has some fat, and that makes the meat juicier and tastier. 

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know that many of my chicken recipes are made with chicken thighs,  including buttermilk fried chicken. Now I have a super simple, super delicious method to make them that I think will make a convert of anyone who thinks they love boneless, skinless chicken, but really has only gotten used to them. As with all chicken I recommend chicken raised on a farm where they can wander and do what chickens like to do, and if that’s not convenient, try to opt for air chilled, rather than water chilled. As an added bonus, you’ll find chicken thighs significantly less expensive than chicken breasts.

Pan roasted chicken thighs:

  • You will need a large sauté pan that can go into the oven. I don’t recommend a non-stick pan, a deep sided cast-iron pan is best
  • Preheat oven to 375° and heat the skillet with about 1 TBL of oil suitable for high heat
  • Salt and pepper both sides if four chicken thighs (or more if you have a large enough pan)
  • When oil is hot, put thighs in, skin side down, turn heat to medium and let chicken cook for about ten minutes
  • Put pan with chicken into oven for ten minutes, then turn chicken so it is skin side up
  • Cook another ten minutes, let chicken rest for 5-10 minutes loosely covered before devouring

pan roasted thighs




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  • October 23, 2014 - 12:26 pm

    Peggy Gilbey McMackin - Hi Nancy, Hope you are feeling much improved. We’ve been in the midst of game travel, tailgating, and hosting friends, including the parents of one of our former teammates in from Wales who have just left this morning. (and I’ve been doing quite a lot of cooking the past couple of weeks, and not Posting!) still, thinking of you and hope you are back to yourself. Definitely in your camp on the chicken thighs which provide so much flavor! Chicken breast has its place too, and I do prefer it cubed in Indian dishes with lots of spices. Today’s chicken thigh dish looks great and hope to give it a try! Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

    • October 23, 2014 - 3:20 pm - Peggy, as always, great to hear from you! I am almost restored to health… Sounds like you’ve been having fun!ReplyCancel

  • November 3, 2014 - 6:50 am

    Pan Roasted Anything - Chefs Last Diet - […] the seasonal produce are a perfect match for this easy and aromatic technique. Lately I have made pan roasted chicken thighs, and I love them so much I’ve been eating them once a week! You can use this technique with […]ReplyCancel

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