Long-Roasted Chicken Thighs
By Catherine Newman
Makes: 4 servings
Total carbohydrates: 0 grams per serving
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Total time: 4 hours 10 minutes (plus a day or two)
One beautiful thing about this recipe is that, although it spends a long time in the oven, it requires almost nothing from you. Another is that it scales up beautifully: you can easily double or triple it to feed a holiday crowd. And a third? It is simply—and I do mean simply—delicious, with the meat gone fall-off-the bone tender and the skin as crisp as a potato chip. Feel free to use four leg quarters—that’s the thigh with the leg attached—if you prefer, or if that’s what’s on-sale at your market. (This is also a great gateway recipe for anybody, including children, who thinks they only like white meat.) Please note: You're going to wonder, when you take this out of the oven, if it's ethical to tear off and eat all of the crispy skin before you bring the chicken to the table and say that you cooked it skinless. You'll just have to do whatever you think is right.
Kosher salt, around 1 teaspoon per pound of chicken (or half as much table salt)
8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (2 ½ - 3 pounds)
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
4 bay leaves, torn in half
Season the chicken soon as you get home from the market—ideally a day or 2 before you plan to cook it, but that same day if need be: Measure the salt into a bowl, then sprinkle each side of each thigh with it, using all the salt. Now sprinkle the bottom of a lasagna-sized baking dish (one in which the thighs will fit snugly) with the garlic and bay leaves, then arrange the salted chicken over them. Grind some black pepper over the top, then cover and refrigerate for as long as you can until you need to cook it—up to 3 days.
Turn oven to 350 °F, and take the chicken out of the refrigerator while the oven heats. Cook the chicken, uncovered, for 2 hours; then turn the heat down to 325 and cook for 1-2 more hours. When the chicken is done, the thighs will have shrunk considerably, the skin will be crisp and golden-brown, and the meat should be falling off the bone. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature with a green salad.
Catherine loves to write about food and feeding people. In addition to her recipe and parenting blog Ben & Birdy (which has about 15,000 weekly readers), she edits the ChopChop series of mission-driven cooking magazines. This kids’ cooking magazine won the James Beard Publication of the Year award in 2013 – the first non-profit ever to win it – and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. Last year they started the WIC version of the magazine for families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and are currently developing Seasoned, their senior version, commissioned by the AARP. They distribute over a million magazines annually, through paid subscriptions, doctor’s offices, schools, and hospitals. Their mission started with obesity as its explicit focus – and has shifted, over the years, to a more holistic one, with health and happiness at its core. That’s the same vibe Catherine brings to the diaTribe column.
[Photo Credit: Catherine Newman]