Chicken thighs take center stage this spring

These juicy pieces can be prepared many ways and bring a robust flavor to meals that can’t be matched

    Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are one of the least expensive cuts of meat today — and one of the most delicious.
    The dark meat is a juicy alternative to breasts and other white meat that can dry out quickly. Keeping the skin on protects chicken thighs from drying out while they cook, and it allows for crispy skin.
    And while it may be tricky to cut bone-in thighs, the bones help prevent the chicken from drying out. It means you need a bit longer to cook the meat through, but the results are worth it.
    There are plenty of ways to prepare chicken thighs, from roasting to grilling or sauteing.
    And thighs are robust so, unlike more delicate pieces of meat, they can stand up to flavorful seasonings and sauces.
    Remember, no matter how you make your chicken thighs, the general rules for cooking chicken always apply. Always wash your hands before and after handling raw chicken and use clean knives, cutting boards and counters. Wash the cutting boards and utensils with hot soapy water after using them and take extra care to wash everything before prepping other ingredients.
    A meat thermometer or instant-read thermometer is the best way to check for the doneness of cooked chicken. The internal temperature of thighs should be at least 165 degrees when taken at the thickest part of the meat.
    Many chicken thigh recipes go from the stovetop to the oven, so pick a skillet that’s big enough to fit the thighs without packing them together. If they’re overcrowded, it’ll mean the chicken will steam instead of roast.
    A cast-iron skillet is perfect , and for four thighs, depending on how big they are, a 10-inch skillet should be ideal.
    For a simple chicken thigh recipe, season the meat with one teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat your skillet over medium heat. Coat it with two teaspoons olive oil, and then put the thighs, skin-side down, in the pan so the fat will render and the skin will become crisp. Cook until the skin looks golden brown and crispy, then flip and let the other side cook about six minutes, just to brown it.
    Transfer the skillet to a 450-degree oven and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees.
    Use the pan drippings to make a simple sauce, and serve the chicken thighs with anything from mashed potatoes to a chimichurri dipping sauce.
    Following are a few recipes for bone-in chicken thighs from

Crispy Panko Chicken Thighs

1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
4 bone-in chicken thighs

    Combine mayonnaise and paprika in a bowl and mix well. Mix panko and garlic powder together in another bowl.
    Spread mayonnaise-paprika mixture on each chicken thigh, then press into panko mixture to coat. Place in a baking pan that’s been lined with foil and coated with cooking spray. Spray the thighs with cooking spray.
    Bake in a 375-degree oven about one hour, until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear. An instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone should read 165 degrees.
    Makes four servings.

Hoisin-Glazed Chicken Thighs

For rub:
2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder
2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
16 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
For glaze:
1 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

    Combine five-spice powder, paprika, salt, garlic, pepper and mustard in a bowl. Rub over both sides of chicken.
    Combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and five-spice powder in a bowl to create glaze.
    Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate.
    Grill chicken four to six minutes, covered, turning once, until lightly browned. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking 15 to 20 minutes, covered, turning and brushing the thighs with glaze every five minutes, until chicken is no longer pink in the middle.


Ranch-Baked Chicken Thighs With Bacon, Brussels Sprouts and Potatoes

4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
1 pound red potatoes, halved or quartered if large
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cracked salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1-ounce package ranch dressing mix
6 slices bacon, chopped

    Place chicken thighs in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
    Toss potatoes, Brussels sprouts and garlic with olive oil in a bowl until vegetables are lightly coated. Place vegetables around and between chicken thighs. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Evenly pour the entire packet of ranch seasoning over chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle chopped bacon on top.
    Bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear. An instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone should read 165 degrees.
    Set an oven rack about six inches from the heat source and preheat the oven’s broiler. Place the baking dish under the broiler and broil two to three minutes, until chicken skin becomes golden brown and a bit crisp.
    Makes four servings.


Moroccan Chicken Thighs

8 bone-in chicken thighs
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
3 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Olive oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

    Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper and let stand about 30 minutes, until it comes to room temperature.
    Combine chicken broth, paprika, cumin, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and two teaspoons lemon zest in a bowl.
    Heat oils in a cast iron skillet until they begin to smoke. Add chicken thighs, skin-side down, and cook four minutes. Flip thighs and continue cooking four minutes, until skin is crispy. Transfer to a plate.
    Saute onion in the skillet three to five minutes, until softened. Pour chicken broth mixture carefully over onion, scraping up any browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Return chicken thighs to the skillet. Spoon some of the liquid over the thighs.
    Transfer skillet to a 375-degree oven and  bake 25 to 30 minutes, until thighs are no longer pink in the center.
    Add olives to the skillet. Drizzle lemon juice over the thighs and garnish the whole dish with parsley.
    Makes four servings.

Sheet Pan Harissa Chicken Dinner

2 tablespoons harissa sauce
4 5-ounce bone-in chicken thighs
8 ounces multicolored carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and crosswise
8 ounces cauliflower florets
8 ounces baby potatoes, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

    Spoon one teaspoon harissa sauce under the skin of each thigh, then transfer to an aluminum foil-lined 10-by-15-inch baking pan. Spread carrots, cauliflower and potatoes in pan. Drizzle evenly with oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    Roast, uncovered, in a 375-degree oven for 40 to 55 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest parts of chicken registers 175 degrees Stir vegetables once halfway through.
    Stir together parsley, garlic and zest in a small bowl.
    Toss vegetables with remaining harissa sauce. Sprinkle with parsley mixture.
    Makes four servings.


Creamy Garlic and Mushroom Chicken Thighs

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 pinch salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, optional

    Heat vegetable oil over medium-heat in a large skillet. Season chicken thighs on both sides with thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Place thighs, skin-side down, into the hot skillet and cook about eight minutes, until browned. Flip thighs over and brown eight minutes. Place thighs on a large plate and set aside.
    Reduce heat to medium-low. Add mushrooms to skillet and cook three to five minutes, until softened. Stir in onion and garlic and cook two minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in white wine and scrape browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Simmer about two minutes, until wine is reduced by half. Stir in chicken broth and allow mixture to come back to a simmer.
    Return chicken thighs to the skillet and cook about 15 minutes, covered, until chicken is no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear. An instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone should read 165 degrees.
    Stir in heavy cream and cook one minute, until just heated through. Adjust salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh parsley just before serving.
    Makes four servings.


Soy Sauce Chicken

1 cup sugar
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1/4 cup minced garlic
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
5 pounds bone-in chicken thighs with skin
1/4 cup chopped green onions

    Combine sugar, soy sauce, water, garlic and ginger in a large stock pot. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Place chicken in stock pot and bring to a boil.
    Boil chicken about 35 minutes, turning it every five minutes, until no longer pink at the bone and juices run clear. An instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone should read 165 degrees. The sauce mixture should have turned into a rich, brown glaze. Remove pot from heat and let cool 10 minutes.
    Place chicken on a platter and sprinkle with chopped green onions.    
    Makes eight servings.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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