I know, I know, I know. You think you don’t like chicken thighs; there are bones to contend with, and different cooking times, and concerns over getting the skin to be crispy rather than rubbery. As most of you know, access to your favorite cuts are harder to come by and I ask you again to consider my favorite cut of the chicken — thighs are full of flavor and cheap. Here are a few ways to ensure success when cooking:
Keeping the skin on protects your chicken thighs from drying out while they cook, plus it allows for the additional textural treat of crispy, perfectly seasoned skin. The bones help prevent the chicken from drying out, they also mean you need a bit longer to cook the meat through, but the results are worth it and overcooking them is almost impossible. Source meat from a local butcher if possible.
If you are a regular reader, you know my feelings about cast iron skillets and they are the perfect vessel for cooking thighs. If you don’t have one, you want a skillet that can go from the stovetop to the oven, and that’s big enough to fit the chicken thighs without packing them tightly together. If they’re overcrowded, it’ll mean the chicken will steam instead of roast. For four thighs, a 10-inch skillet should be perfect.
This means salt. I only use salt. You’ll just need one teaspoon of kosher salt for four chicken thighs (about two pounds chicken total). I use a little more and dust from high, getting an even coating on both sides. Use more salt than you think you need.
Heat your pan over medium. You may be tempted to bump the heat up higher, but don’t. Coat the pan in about one teaspoon of high temperature oil, and then put the thighs skin-side down on the pan, before the pan heats up. The point here isn’t to cook the thighs through, you’ll do that in the oven later. You want all the lovely chicken fat to gently, gradually render, giving the skin that crispiness we crave. Cook until the skin looks golden brown and crispy about 10 – 18 minutes, until they are brown and shallow frying in their own renderings.
Do not flip the thighs and transfer the skillet to a 450-degree oven. Cook the thighs until the thickest part registers 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer (avoiding the bone). Take them out and enjoy with any of your favorite sides.
Pro tip: Do not throw away the fat in the pan, called schmaltz. It is a fantastic oil for cooking other foods such as roasting vegetables — it is liquid gold.
If you wander down Del Ray’s, “The Avenue,” you won’t miss the farm-red building with a rustic fence bordering the patio. Stomping Ground opened two years ago and quickly became popular for its made-from-scratch biscuits and its neighborhood vibe. On weekends, excited guests line up before Stomping Ground opens hoping to be the first to get a just-out-of-the-oven biscuit or a fresh salad. Stomping Ground is mostly known for its fast casual breakfast and lunch but on Thursdays and Fridays they provide a full dinner service after 5:00pm. All meals are built from local, seasonal food that is organic whenever possible.
2309 Mt Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301