Lazy Chicken Thighs (I cut every corner and this happened…)

Lazy Chicken Thighs (I cut every corner and this happened…)


Have you ever cut every corner when making
a dish and by accident ended up with fantastic results? That’s how these gorgeous chicken
thighs happened. Completely by accident. But don’t worry. I’ve tested this recipe numerous
times, so this accident is completely reproducible. This dish requires no planning and you won’t
even dirty a single pan or skillet. I am not kidding. If you watch my channel, you probably know
that I am a very meticulous cook. It’s not that I don’t cut corners. It’s just that
cutting corners rarely results in a great dish. I make mediocre food all the time. My
children’s school lunches. Dinners for my family while I am teaching. If I get behind
with class prep, it usually reflects on what my family gets to eat that night. That’s
what happened with this chicken. I didn’t have time to salt it ahead and I didn’t
want to dirty any dishes because there was no time to wash them. So I grabbed some chicken
thighs, salted them, coated them in a bit of my standard grilling glaze and threw them
in the oven on a foil lined baking sheet. Imagine my surprise when I got some of the
tastiest chicken I’ve ever made. Here is how it works. Set the oven to 450F with a rack in the bottom
third. Place a baking sheet lined with foil in the bottom third of the oven to let it
preheat. Preheating the baking sheet is very important to obtain the crispy skin. The foil
is optional. I’ve tested this recipe with the foil, with parchment paper, and without
lining the baking sheet with anything at all. They all worked. Though the parchment paper
produced slightly less crispy results. The reason I like the foil is because it makes
clean up so easy. My pan stayed completely clean. Trim the skin on the chicken thighs to make
it fit the meat nicely. By the way, I don’t wash chicken or any meat or fish. Washing
them doesn’t kill bacteria, just spreads it all over your sink. If you insist on washing
the chicken, you do need to dry it very thoroughly. Otherwise just make sure it’s not dripping
wet. Salt the chicken on both sides. Now we need to make my standard grilling glaze. I
use this glaze so often that I made a separate video on how to make it. I’ll link to the
full video below, but here is the gist. Soy sauce will give us umami boost, and its
sweetness helps with browning. Dijon mustard will give us acidity and a slight bite. Pomegranate
molasses will give us sweetness, acidity, and nuttiness. Zaatar for tang and aroma.
Our main ingredient is oil. It promotes browning and reduces sticking. And last but not least
is garlic. We’ll grate it on a microplane zester to turn it into a paste. This way it
will dissolve in the glaze and won’t burn in little pieces. If you are concerned about the exotic ingredients
like pomegranate molasses and zaatar, you are welcome to skip them. Drizzle the chicken with about 1 tsp of this
glaze on each side. Don’t go to town on this. This glaze promotes browning and you
know what too much browning is called? Burning. The leftover glaze can be kept in the fridge
for a few weeks. Let the chicken sit like this at room temperature
around 15 minutes while your oven is preheating. Place your chicken in the pan skin side down
and place it in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the skin is very brown and crispy. Oh my gosh. Is this the most lovely skin or
what. Flip the chicken. Lower the heat to 400F and
cook another 10 minutes. Or until the internal temperature reaches 180 to 190F. I know that’s
scarily high, but bone in chicken thighs have a lot of connective tissue and stringy bits.
Cooking them to a very high temperature actually makes them more tender. The next step is very
important. Let them rest for 10-15 minutes. They are way too hot to eat right now and
they need this time for the muscles to relax and reabsorb the juice. While the chicken
is resting, it’s juices will mix with all the brown bits and produce a delicious sauce. The drippings from this chicken are just heavenly.
I want to show you how tender it is. Here is the meat near the bone, and I can pinch
it with my fingers so easily. The tenderness didn’t really surprise me.
Chicken thighs cooked to a very high temperature are always tender. But I was surprised at
how juicy this chicken was. How could that be? Shouldn’t it be less juicy because I
didn’t salt it ahead. Other surprises were that the chicken didn’t stick to the pan
even though I didn’t dry it and that the skin turned out so crispy. Usually skillets
are way better than ovens at crispy skin. I don’t have good answers to these questions,
but I do have some guesses. It’s quite possible that these thighs retained
less water than the thighs salted overnight. But chicken thighs have so many pockets of
fat that it’s hard to tell if they have a bit more or a bit less water. I tried salting
and marinating this chicken a day ahead and noticed absolutely no difference in juiciness. It’s also likely that they did actually
stick to the baking pan in the beginning, but once they browned, they let go of the
pan. It is very important to have a very hot baking pan. My oven preheats very quickly
and runs very hot, especially towards the bottom. So if you don’t get great browning
at 450F after 10-15 minutes, next time try 500F and preheat the oven for 30 minutes.
The pan only needs to go into the oven 10 minutes before you are ready to cook the chicken,
so no need to bake an empty pan for 30 minutes. Also, make sure you don’t crowd the pan.
Leave plenty of space around the pieces. My little quarter sheet can fit at most 3 thighs
and a half sheet can fit 6. If they are too close together, they create too much steam
and the skin doesn’t crisp up as much. I have also tried making this dish with split
chicken breasts. In other words bone in skin on breasts. But instead of cooking them to
180F, I cooked them to 130F and the temperature went up to 140 as they rested. It was a good
dish, but not a great dish like the thighs. The beasts came out very juicy because I cooked
them to such a low temperature, but they seemed a bit bland inside. The exposed flesh of the
thighs seems to give salt a way to penetrate even without salting in advance. But the breasts
could really use an overnight salting. The skin of the breasts was also not as crisp
because of their rounded shape. So I think that thighs are definitely a way to go. I am thinking, this could be a great college
student dish. I wonder if it would work in a toaster oven. Unfortunately, I don’t have
one, but if you try it, let me know. Oh and if you don’t have a thermometer, just go
with 15 minutes on the skin and 10 minutes on the flesh. Chicken thighs are very flexible
with temperature. Anything from 165F to 195F will be edible and most likely really yummy. Here are some more videos for you to check
out and if you are ever in the Boston area, maybe I’ll see you in one of my classes.

45 thoughts on “Lazy Chicken Thighs (I cut every corner and this happened…)”

  1. You recommended cooking the bone-in thighs to 180-190 degrees. What temperature would you recommend cooking thighs with the bone removed?

  2. Magic ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ just 20 min ago I was thinking : I have chicken thighs, gotta search you tube for some original recipe. Bringing up YouTube app and home page shows this video from amazing Helen !!!! Wow !!

  3. Great video Helen! I have done something similar a few times, stumbling into a great recipe by mistake! LOL

  4. i only use the toaster oven. i don't know how many years it's been since i used the oven in my stove. i'm lazy and i find preheating isn't worth the time it takes. i've never noticed that preheating the toaster oven made any difference. probably since it's so little it gets up to temp very quickly. i made some chicken legs last light using a similar method. although, first i took them out of the freezer and soaked them in cold water for about an hour. then i boiled the drumsticks and then put them in the oven. just long enough to get the bar b q sauce to get sticky. but i like thighs the best so i hope i remember this method so i can try.

  5. Agree about washing chicken. Been trying to tell my wife this all the time, but her mind is always stuck in the "russian food safety" guidelines and that "russians are always right" mode.

    #realcomment Yes definitely. It's all about technique and cutting corners in the right way. For example, for my butter chicken, I use powdered spices instead of whole spices and good quality tomato passata instead of tomatoes. This is to save both dishwashing and blending and straining the tomatoes etc. Basically: Passata, ghee, ginger/garlic paste, cashew nut powder, garam masala, mace, green cardamom, kashmiri chili powder, butter, a bit of tomato ketchup, honey and dried fenugreek. All spices are powdered and not whole. It's usually tandoori chicken that goes into the gravy at the end.

  6. #RealComment This is exactly the type of practical meal that I need. Though I watch every video and love them, this one is something I can do, too! Really excited to give this a try.

  7. I was planning to start meal prepping this weekend and Iโ€™m soooo glad I found this recipe! Thank you Helen

  8. I've always bought chicken from basic chain grocery stores that comes in those small packs with cling wrap, and whenever I remove the chicken, it has a gross, slimy texture to it and so I have always rinsed it to get rid of that. It's not even that I think the sliminess is harmful in any way. I've just never been sure how it will affect taste, texture, or the ability of the chicken to be prepped if doing something like breading it. So do you buy chicken that isn't packaged in order to avoid this, or is this sliminess not worth washing off?

  9. wow, zaatar and pomegranate juice, as a Lebanese, this made me jump on my seat, love it Helen! And love your channel! Keep it up!

  10. 6:50 Re 'crowding the pan'. I'd guess it's not steam that's the problem, but the area of metal per thigh. The pan is absorbing heat from the oven and conducting it to the skin. Less metal, less heat delivered.

  11. Just bought on amazon all the secret ingredients for The Glaze )))) Thighs beware : here I come armed with Helenโ€™s wisdom ! ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿณ (I.e., chicken thighs and mine )))) ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜˜

  12. I only use thighs these days … Always seem to taste better than breasts anyway. I am going to give this a try – get out of a brown and braise rut, and no cleaning is definitely a bonus. Seems like it's a perfect opportunity to roast some veggies alongside too.

  13. If you can't find zaatar, just mix thyme, some other herbs (like marjoram, but whatever you have on hand), sesame seeds, and sumac (might not be easy to find). It won't be exactly the same since the thyme won't taste like what the wild version that's forage and dried, but it'll be close enough

  14. #RealComment This looks wonderful! Do you think it would work with BBQ sauce if I added oil to the sauce? Thank you!!

  15. #realcomment Thanks for tonight's menu! Looking forward to trying and commenting on this recipe!! Love chicken thighs- especially that crispy skin.

  16. Just recently discovered zaatar..where has it been all my life? Wish it you could be easily found it in the supermarkets instead of by mail.

  17. "Have you ever cut every corner and produced an amazing dish?"
    Well, today I put in 10 times the effort and produced one of the worst results of my life.

  18. Since watching your videos, Helen, you have converted me from chicken breasts to boneless chicken thighs for a great many dishes. I really like their flavour for many dishes. Great videos. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜Š

  19. #realcomment Delicious! Your "simple" glaze adds wonderful complexity and my family has insisted I add Lazy Chicken Thighs to our favorites' list. Love the cooking technique Helen. Everyone should try this! A big thank-you!

  20. i was looking at your glaze and wanted your opinion about using substitutes of herbs and spices… example pomegranate molasses. The top substitutes are cranberry juice concentrate, grenadine, balsamic vinegar with sugar, sweetened pomegranate juice syrup, and tamarind paste with honey. ect ect.. do you sub???? i want it to taste the way you make it but don't want a jar of something i won't use again for a long time …… thank you

  21. Your channel makes me so happy. You are so realistic and also down to Earth. Thank you for taking your time to make these videos for the world!!!

  22. Am I right in remembering that โ€œThe Perception of Juicinessโ€ won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film In โ€˜87?

  23. HA HA HA I have had a few surprises too when cooking. I figured out how to make the best bbq brisket by accident. Once when brewing a beer I added a random left over ingredient, and when it was done the whole beer club went nuts over it lol. I did not know you were a teacher. Your credibility just went astral in my book. Thanks for the vid.

  24. I would be your very best friend in the whole wide world if you would post your favorite recipe for Okroshka! It's hotter than a politician in hell down here in Atlanta right now, and a chilled soup would be PERFECT! Oh please oh please oh please…

  25. I think you should upload your videos on facebook too. Many people comes to youtube after seeing youtubers' videos on facebook… I find that many youtubers with large numbers of views and subscribers also upload their videos on youtube. Your channel deserves to get much more views and subscribers!

  26. I just made this and the skin stuck to the foil and pulled off when I went to flip it. Maybe oil that foil first! Very disappointing

  27. Not gonna lie…have seen you use this glaze in s few videos and was extremely skeptical of the flavors standing out but you were right….it did mimic mallard reaction flavors…..this is a gem

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