Chicken Thighs – The Other Dark Meat

  in Blog
Braised Chicken Thighs with Broccoli and Mustard Sauce

Chicken thighs don’t get their due. They are the less glamorous cousins of chicken breasts for which many celebrated recipes have been developed, like Chicken Kiev and Chicken Parmesan. Cooks perceive dark meat as less desirable, but thighs are very flavorful, juicy and more forgiving when it comes to cooking time. It’s easy to overcook a chicken breast and end up with a dry result but thighs are fattier so it’s harder to ruin them.

Lean meat has for decades been touted as heart healthy but more evidence is coming to light that saturated fat is not the demon we once thought it was. It turns out that sugar and refined carbohydrates are a much bigger problem in heart disease than meat. Also, dark meat contains a high level of taurine, a nutrient that lowers the risk of heart disease.

Here are some recipes that feature chicken thighs. Oryana sells locally-sourced chicken thighs from Nature’s Acres in Manton, Michigan.

Braised Chicken Thighs with Broccoli and Mustard Sauce

4 boneless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons flour
sea salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup Shetler’s heavy cream
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
sea salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh local tarragon
4 cups local broccoli florets

  1. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and dredge in flour.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a cast iron skillet. Cook the thighs about 4 minutes until browned. Flip and cook on other side until browned. Remove from pan.
  3. Add wine to pan and scrape to remove any browned bits. Add the chicken broth. Stir in the cream, mustard, and turmeric if using, and cook a few minutes. Return the chicken to the pan and continue cooking, allowing the sauce to thicken and thighs to cook through, about 4 more minutes.
  4. While chicken is cooking, steam the broccoli.
  5. Add the tarragon to the chicken and stir, coating the thighs with the sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve thighs and broccoli drizzled with sauce.

Chicken Thigh Parmesan

4 chicken thighs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg + 1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups prepared tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

  1. Trim the fat from the thighs and cut each one in half.
  2. Mix the bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt in a bowl. Whisk together the egg, milk, and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt in another bowl.
  3. Dip the chicken thigh pieces in the egg mixture and then dredge in the bread crumb mixture, coating evenly.
  4. Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat and fry chicken pieces until golden, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side. Remove from pan and place in a greased casserole dish.
  5. Spread sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with the cheeses. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Five Spice Turkey Thighs

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds boneless and skinless turkey thighs
2 green onions, minced
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons sherry
1 tablespoon natural cane sugar
1 teaspoon five spice powder
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon thin diagonally sliced green onions
hot cooked rice

  1. Trim thighs of excess fat. Tuck ends under to make a bundle. Place in a slow cooker.
  2. Combine minced onions, tamari, sherry, sugar, five spice powder, sesame oil and pepper.  Mix well. Pour over turkey thighs. Cover and cook on low about 6 hours or until turkey is tender. Remove turkey from slow cooker and keep warm. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth and stir into cooking juices in slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on high 15 to 20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Slice turkey. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and sliced onions. Serve with rice and sauce.

Red Chicken Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 boneless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
1 medium red onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 14 oz. can chicken broth or 1 1/2 cups homemade broth
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups cooked beans or 1 15 oz can beans, rinsed
1 cup corn
Sea salt to taste
shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream

  1. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove chicken and set aside. Add onions, celery, and jalapeno, and sauté until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add chili powders, and garlic and cook another minute.
  3. Add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, corn, chicken, and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook about 25 minutes. Garnish with sour cream and cheddar cheese. Serves 4.

Teriyaki Chicken

Recipe by Misaeng Suh Liggett
Serves 4

4 chicken thighs
sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons mirin
1 1/2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 1/2 teaspoons natural cane sugar
vegetable oil

  1. Season chicken with sea salt.
  2. Mix soy sauce, mirin, sherry, and sugar together in a small bowl.
  3. Heat a cast iron or heavy skillet over medium high heat and add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil.
  4. Cook thighs about three minutes or until golden brown. Flip thighs over and cook for about 3 minutes or until cooked through.
  5. Reduce heat to low and pour the seasoning mixture over the chicken.  Cook for a few minutes to allow the mixture to reduce and get thicker and shinier. When it is almost dry, it is done. Serve warm.

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Thighs

4 boneless chicken thighs
4 slices prosciutto ham
2 oz smoked cheddar cheese, cut into ½ inch thick batons
seasoned salt and pepper

  1. Heat oven to 375. Season thighs with seasoned salt and pepper on both sides.
  2. Place a baton of cheese in the middle of thighs and roll up.
  3. Wrap the thighs tightly with the prosciutto and place, seam side down in a small, rimmed baking pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until thermometer registers 165 degrees.

Chive Flower Grilled Chicken with Garlic Spinach and Cheddar Polenta

3 Nature’s Acres chicken thighs
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
2 local chive flowers, chopped fine
optional: chive flowers for garnish

1/2 cup quick cooking polenta
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 bunch or bag local spinach, washed, stems removed
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt to taste

  1. Marinate chicken thighs in vinegar, olive oil, chive flowers and salt and pepper for 30 minutes. Heat grill to medium high. Cook chicken thighs for 3 – 4 minutes, flip and cook other side until cooked through. Remove from grill.
  2. While chicken is cooking, heat the broth to a simmer, pour the polenta into the broth in a thin stream, stirring constantly. Cook for 1 minute or until thick. Stir in cheddar cheese.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Toss in garlic and cook for 30 seconds until garlic browns. Add spinach and toss with tongs, incorporating the garlic, for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until spinach is wilted. Season with salt.