Chris Kimball’s new recipe for easy weeknight chicken thighs is a huge improvement over my past methods. His principle goal being to produce tender and juicy meat, and crisp skin. His solution uses a combination of baking the chicken skin-side down, which will fully cook the meat, then flipping the thighs (skin-side up) and broil until you have perfectly crisp skin. The recipe is an complete success, but the Roasted Shallot and Mint Chutney was a little plain. A solid 4-stars.
The complete details are in the new November/December 2011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated; including three accompanying sauces. While his technique makes this an effortless meal, his claims “the whole process took only 30 minutes” is overly optimistic. The time from step 1 to 9 took me one full hour. I chose to make the Roasted Shallot and Mint Chutney, which was good, but lacked some potency. Next time I’ll try primary sauce to be used with this recipe; Roasted Garlic Salsa Verde.
- Chris Kimball’s original recipe does not line the sheet pan with aluminum foil; but baking chicken at 450-degrees will permanently scar your sheet pan. To avoid this, I used heavy-duty aluminum foil which made clean up much easier. Never fear; the skin still rendered beautifully.
- I love my heavy-duty sheet pan, which is made from 13-gauge aluminum (model #5314 only, not the cheaper 18-gauge version). When I had thinner baking sheets they would definitely warp at 450-degrees. If your sheet pans are thinner you may have to use paper towels mop up some of the excess fat rendered during baking process. Otherwise the warping may cause a messy spill in the oven.
- When I started the baking I thought I would have lots of leftover chicken, but the chicken shrank substantially during baking. Be sure to prepare a side dish.
- A final warning; the broiling created lots of smoke as the excess fat burned during broiling. This isn’t a problem for the chicken because you’re only broiling until the skin is just crispy. But I won’t prepare this during the dead of winter, because I know I’ll end up opening a few windows.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess? Low/Medium.
Start time 5:30 PM. Dinner time 6:30 PM.
Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepare it tonight are given below:
4 pounds bone-in chicken thighs (8 to 10 thighs)
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
Ground black pepper
Vegetable oil spray
Shallot and Mint Chutney:
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeño pepper
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Adjust two oven racks; one to middle and another to the lowest positions. Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees; about 20 minutes. Line a heavy-duty, rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil and put on the lower rack during pre-heating.
- While the oven preheats, thinly slice the three shallots and put in microwave safe bowl. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and microwave until shallots have softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir the shallots halfway through microwaving. Arrange shallots in the center of 12″ square of aluminum foil, and cover with another 12″ square of aluminum foil. Fold the edges over to make a sealed 7″ square packet.
- Trim away all visible fat (and any excess skin) from the thighs, then use a metal skewer to poke the skin side of chicken thighs 10 to 12 times per piece. Lay out on paper towels and pat dry. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly spray the skin-side with non-stick cooking spray.
- Once the sheet pan and oven are fully preheated to 450 degrees, place thighs skin side down on hot baking sheet, and put on bottom rack. Put the shallot-filled foil packet on middle rack.
- Roast thighs for about 25 minutes; rotating the pan and removing foil packet after 10 minutes.
- When chicken reaches 160 degrees (not fully cooked), remove from oven and preheat your broiler to high for 4 minutes. Flip the chicken skin-side up.
- Broil chicken for 6 minutes on middle rack until the skin becomes crisp and well browned, rotating the pan as necessary to ensure even browning. The internal temperature of the chicken should register 175 degrees. Transfer chicken to serving platter and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
- To finish the sauce; stem, seed and chop the jalapeño. Process shallots, mint, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, sugar, and salt in food processor until finely chopped, about 5 seconds. With food processor running, add 3 tablespoons oil in a slow, steady stream until smooth. Scraping down bowl once, then give it a final pulse.
- Serve, passing the chutney separately.
from the November/December 2011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated. He wanted an