A lot has been said when it comes to chicken. Endless discussions about its lackluster qualities. Who ever said chicken was boring, must still be pondering how can it get to the other side?
Considering the million preparations and techniques, with deep-rooted dishes going through a much-needed revival and new imaginative takes thrown in for good measure, chicken is the 13thwonder of the gastronomic world when given some TLC, because it’s a blank canvas.
Sure, you can slap it on the grill for a quick fix and slather BBQ sauce from a bottle to your hearts content. ~YAWN ~
We all have close affinity to the ubiquitous white meat, but it doesn’t render very sumptuous results for stews and braising. Let’s face it, there’s nothing sexier than the ever-present chicken thigh.
More ambitiously, with an absolute riot of accoutrements and spices to be paired with these juicy wonders, the sky’s the limit.
From dried and fresh fruits, nuts, pulses, and veggies to sumptuous rubs that add exotic global influences, to the extravagant, velvety sauces they are presented in.
And because thighs shrink while cooking, plan on making extra. It’s a heavenly thing when thighs are cooked to perfection. Try not to get them boneless unless, it’s for a stir fry, as the bone is what creates that succulence and tender juiciness of a well finished dish. Let your imagination soar, rip open the pantry and fridge doors and get cooking. AND always remove the chicken pieces (that goes with any meat) from the fridge and allow them to sit at room temp for at least an hour. They will cook evenly with the chill removed.
Here are some mouthwatering recipes your family and friends will think you’ve acquired a covert culinary degree!
MEDITERRANEAN SPICED RUBBED CHICKEN THIGHS
Memory fails as to where I obtained this take, but it’s been one of my go-to thigh recipes. The preparation yields the most succulent rendition with an intoxicating aroma permeating while cooking, due to the uncommon spice mixture. Here, Aleppo pepper, Szechuan peppercorns, coriander seeds, star anise and subsequently herbs, are showcased mixing Mediterranean with a definite Pan-Asian twist.
SLOW COOKER MOROCCAN CHICKEN THIGHS
Typically, the slow cooker isn’t one of my go to methods of food preparation, as I find I require a bit more of a stimuli and challenge in the kitchen. Chili or a beef stew are the usual contenders to set it and forget it, However, for this dish, the slow cooker renders an outstanding dish infused with authentic Moroccan overtones so captivating you’ll think it’s been prepared in a Tagine and you’re eating al-fresco in one of the many colorful, outdoor markets in Marrakesh.
OVEN GRILLED THIGHS OVER TOMATILLO SALSA
Unleash your tomatillo with this outstanding South of the Border dish. Tomatillos may be somewhat alarming if you have no clue what they are, but chances are, if you have sampled Salsa Verde at a Mexican restaurant, you’ve had tomatillos.
Also known as the Mexican Husk tomato, tomatillos have an exterior paper-like covering and they shouldn’t be confused with green tomatoes, as tomatillos have a sweet-tart, almost lemony-apple taste that has absolutely no substitute in the flavor department. And most definitely can’t be replaced for green tomatoes. After the husk is removed, they are a little sticky, so rinse them in cold water.
Shred any leftover meat the next day (if you have any) and serve with tortillas, topped with thin avocadoes slices, shredded cabbage, Mexican crema, cilantro and the tomatillo salsa.
COCONUT CURRY THIGHS
This Thai inspired fragrant thigh dish is a flavor powerhouse made creamy by the use of coconut milk. If you aren’t a culinary gangster in the kitchen yet, this will surely acquire you some accolades!
ASOPAO WITH CHICKEN AND SHRIMP
This definitely falls into the category of one-pot-meals and am a total junkie for braised dishes and stews. Asopao is all the rage in Trinidad and Tobago and Puerto Rico.
Paired with the vast array of seafood from the coastlines in Florida, especially the Gulf, this take it’s appropriately called Flo-ribbean Asopao, as the state has a vast injection of Creole, Caribbean and Latin culinary influences. Here, the mix of shrimp and chicken create unique and unparalleled flavors, resembling a Spanish paella of sorts.
POLLASTRE CON GAMBAS – SPANISH CHICKEN WITH SHRIMP
This stew is a flavor bomb that defines the quintessential cuisine of northern Spain, Catalonia. The marriage of poultry and seafood often is a paired combination, which is undeniably as heavenly as it is unique, so much so that this will become a dish you will come to crave and prepare often. The picada is what creates the creamy factor in this dish with the bread and almonds.
This is a recipe made popular by nomadic shepherds and Palestinian villagers, where people had limited means and it’s the true essence of a rustic dish. It delivers the indigenous and a quintessential flavors of Jerusalem and though simple in flavor, it is one on of the most exquisite chicken dishes I’ve ever prepared. The dish calls for a whole chicken, but it can easily be substituted with thighs.
Not be confused with the sofrito associated with Spain or Philippines, as the Spanish word sofreirmeans to fry lightly. The technique here is to braise the chicken in very little liquidand allow the chicken to render out all its juices, so don’t be discouraged by the little amount of liquid added.
Don’t remove the skin, as that is a vital component for the flavoring of the dish and will add succulence and moistness.
The preparation may seem a bit laborious, but the result is so awe-inspiring it will be a dish you’ll recreate many times over. Don’t be alarmed by the large amount of garlic. The cloves will become a nutty, creamy wonder and these will be fought over more so than the actual chicken. So, the more the merrier!
THIGHS WITH LEMON AND CASTELVERANO OLIVES
There is almost a poetic overtone for this dish. The colors are spectacular, and the flavors imparted from the brininess of the olives and the tart acidity of the lemons create a match made in heaven. The olives from Castelvetrano, Sicily are the most ubiquitous snack in Italy. They differ from other olives because they are a sweeter, very meaty and have almost a buttery flavor, which are ideal for this dish, so they don’t impart too much sodium. Ensure you tell your guests that the olives aren’t pitted.