There are two meals I prepare nearly every week—Crispy Skin Chicken Thighs and Honey Garlic Salmon. These are my go-tos because both are quick and easy—and so delicious they never grow old.
Even my grandsons, Sam 3 and Eli 9 agree. You should see them dive into this chicken. They’d eat it every meal if they had their way!
CRISPY SKIN CHICKEN THIGHS
This recipe is sophisticated enough for company, but perfect for a hectic mid-week dinner, too. The ingredients are shockingly few. The secret for success and rave reviews from old and young alike is technique. It’s all about the technique! Get this right and you’ll have a new technique to use in other applications.
The secret is cooking chicken thighs skin-side down in a cast-iron skillet (or heavy, non-stick skillet) hot enough and long enough to render out the fat. This makes the skin crispy and, according to Eli and Sam, even better than bacon! I do agree (it’s so good), but what I love even more is that skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs are cheap. I buy them in bulk at Costco, where they are fresh, plump and packaged in groups of 4.
- 6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 1/4 pounds)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 475 F. Season chicken, both sides, with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch cast-iron (preferably) or heavy nonstick skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking.
Nestle chicken thighs in skillet, skin side down, and cook uncovered without disturbing for exactly 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high; continue cooking skin side down, occasionally rearranging chicken thighs and rotating pan to evenly distribute heat, until fat renders and skin is golden brown, 12 minutes. I set a timer for 12 minutes and stand there patiently for the timer to count down. If it begins to smoke, turn down the heat. You want this to sizzle but not burn.
When the time dings, transfer uncovered skillet to oven and cook 13 more minutes. Again, set a timer. Flip chicken; continue cooking until skin crisps and meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate; let rest 5 minutes before serving. Optional: Drizzle with Teriyaki Sauce. Serve with white rice and more Teriyaki Sauce for passing. Serves: 4 to 6.
Optional Teriyaki Sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 1/4 cup water
Combine ingredients in a large saucepan over high heat. The larger the pan, the faster it will reduce. For me it takes about 10 minutes, but it depends on the size of the pan you use.
Bring to boil, then turn heat down and simmer until it reduces by half. The consistency should be like a light syrup. Bring to room temperature before using.
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HONEY GARLIC SALMON
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (traditional or light)
- 1 tablespoon any vinegar (but not balsamic)
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 2 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
In a small bowl whisk together the ingredients to make the sauce. Set aside.
Pat salmon dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Drizzle oil in a skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Place salmon in the pan, and cook the first side for 3 minutes. Turn, then cook the other side for 2 minutes, or to taste.
Pour sauce over salmon. Cook for 1 minute or until it starts to thicken slightly.
Remove onto serving plates. Drizzle sauce over the top and garnish with sesame seeds as desired. Serves 2. This recipe doubles well, to serve 4.
Photo credit: Bon Appetite