Chicken of the Year

I’m a thigh man, though I am ashamed to admit: it was not always so. I grew up, in fact, turning my naive little nose up at dark meat. I actively avoided the stuff. I was a strict white meat guy, a fan of the Perdue boneless breast, and now that I look back on it, a person who apparently didn’t care much for how things actually taste. But then, a couple of summers ago, our tiny universe expanded. In our search for the perfect grilled chicken recipe — i.e., a grilled chicken recipe that (a) we could serve to guests and that (b) did not suck — we discovered boneless thighs. O boneless chicken thighs, where had you been all my life? This was a revelation. They took to our yogurt marinade so well. They cooked quickly and evenly. They didn’t dry out. They fit perfectly on a warm hamburger bun (with a little Hellman’s, of course). They were good for school lunches the next day. Best of all, they tasted like something. Since then, we’ve taken this well beyond the grill, too. Thighs are great with an apricot-mustard glaze (see: Jenny’s book), or baked with a little homemade barbecue sauce. They’re tasty when breaded, in the Shake ‘n Bake style. But our latest go-to move is the pan roast, a crazily simple and delicious and crispy and pleasingly-browned and crowd-pleasing way to eat chicken. Last week, in a rush to get food on the table and not having a lot of non-rotten vegetables in our refrigerator, I threw some thighs in our cast iron skillet with cremini mushrooms, fresh thyme, and some roughly chopped onions. Total hands-on time: extremely low. Flavor quotient: high. — Andy

Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms

1-1.5 pounds boneless chicken thighs
1 cup cremini mushrooms
4 or five sprigs of thyme
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
Few glugs olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 475°. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and paprika. Heat oil in skillet over high heat. Add chicken to skillet, skin side down, and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook another 10 or so minutes, until skin is golden brown. Flip chicken, gently toss in mushrooms, onions, and thyme so they are coated in oil, and transfer skillet to oven. Cook another another 15-17 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Let rest a few minutes before serving.


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Sarah T

Boneless thighs are what are normally stocked in my freezer. If someone visiting only eats white meat, I have to do an emergency grocery run. I haven’t had any difficulty using them in place of chicken breasts (I’m talking to you, pretzel chicken), but then again, chicken cordon bleu is not on my dinner rotation.


Going to try this. They also cook up perfectly in the crockpot. From a recipe I got off Kitchn, I just dumped some hoisin sauce, a few smashed garlic cloves, and slices of fresh ginger. Shreds perfectly.

Marcia Coakley

Right on, Andy. Chicken thighs…always our fave.

And BTW…do give FreshPaper a look:
It’s a simple piece of paper that keeps fruits & veggies fresh for 2-4 times longer, organically, with fenugreek and mild maple aroma that says it’s working.
Doing my part to limit food waste.

liz navarro

I went out and bought a cast iron pan for this and made it tonight – quick and delicious!!

Only a few small changes: I switched the the olive oil for high heat grape seed oil, added 1 clove of garlic; used smoked paprika because that’s all I had. I was afraid the mushrooms were burning because they turned very dark, but they were fine. Served it with mashed potatoes and arugula salad.
Kids loved it. Hubby asked me to make again. 🙂


Jenny’s apricot-mustard glaze is on my list of go-to, hell yeah, kick-bum recipes. My whole family loves it, on most anything it has appeared on, and we eat it almost once a week. So, if you’re rating this one anywhere near that level, I guess I have to try it. Thighs and all.


I love thighs. Chicken breasts just have no flavor IMO. I primarily use them to grind or shred for taco meat, but otherwise, if I’m cooking chicken I prefer thighs. There’s nothing worse than a rubbery chicken breast. My aversion for chicken breasts was at its height during my pregnancy and it’s never quite recovered.


Do you think this will work in my dutch oven instead of a cast iron skillet? My cast iron skillet that I inherited has a warped bottom so I have a new one on order…but want to make this tonight!


I’m just coming to this recipe now. Sounds great. I love putting a cast iron pan in the oven. But where do you get boneless thighs with the skin on? I wish I could get those. My choice is boneless and skinless or boned with skin. Love your recipes. And your attitude (family dinners) even more.


This was reeeeally good. Thank you so much for it. It really is a tasty yummy meal. It tastes like a Sunday dinner but it is relatively quick.


Am I the only one to have the olive oil smoke horribly? It set off the fire alarm. I know olive oil has a low smoke point so I was surprised to see the directions call for putting the pan on high heat for 2 minutes. Do you use a special kind of olive oil?


catherine, the same thing happened to me when i made the bon apetite version of this last night…the oven smoked like crazy and my husband was giving me the stink eye (until he got to eat this delicious meal!). i’d use canola oil next time…it has a higher smoking point.


What do you do when you don’t have the money for (or the inclination to buy because, come on, ain’t nobody got time for all that) a cast iron skillet? Would a casserole dish, baking sheet, pie pan, or small baking pan do in a pinch? Is there some magics the iron has that I am not aware of?


RE: Rosie, you could use any of those in a pinch, but if there were ever a versatile, well-worth it addition to your kitchen, an iron skillet would be it.

Several of the items you mention won’t work on top of the stove so you’ll have to dirty two pans—that’s one of the big pluses of the iron skillet. Plus, I find it browns meat better than anything else, so I still prefer it to our Calphalon skillet that can go in the oven.