Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Thighs Have It

Ahhh….the unassuming chicken thigh.  Like a wallflower at a high school dance or the last one picked in gym class for a game of dodgeball.  The chicken thigh always seems to be the last piece left on the platter after everyone has taken all the glamorous chicken breasts or the fun-loving wings & drumsticks.  I admit, in the past I’ve always overlooked chicken thighs.  I just never really gave them much thought & didn’t bother to cook them figuring nobody would like them.  Over the years though, I’ve come across some very tasty recipes using the ever flavorful chicken thigh.  To me, they’re probably the “chickeniest” tasting part of the bird.  Braising is my favorite way to cook them and I like to purchase them boneless/skin-on especially if I want a nice crispy skin.  In this recipe I’ve created, I crisp the skin twice – once before braising and then under the broiler after they’ve cooked.  And yes, I know the skin is not a healthy thing to eat, but the crispiness of the skin in this recipe will keep me sated until my “Thankgiving turkey crispy skin roll-up”.   This recipe is cooked completely on the stovetop and I like to use my lovely, oval Chantal enamel Dutch oven w. the glass lid so I can see what’s going on inside.  I’m proud of this piece of cookware because I bought it on sale 12 years ago for only $35!!  For some of the slow-cooking recipes I have created over the years, I’ve enjoyed adding various Campbell’s© soups as an easy and efficient way to add concentrated flavor.  Their Golden Mushroom Soup flavor is quite versatile and I love it in this recipe.  I like to serve this chicken over a plate of creamy, Parmesan cauliflower puree with some of the sauce spooned atop.  Maybe the cauliflower makes me feel a little less indulgent after eating the crispy chicken skin J.

Here's how to make this dish:

Braised Chicken Thighs

5          boneless/skin-on chicken thighs
1tsp      garlic powder
1tsp      Kosher salt
1tsp      fresh cracked black pepper
½         large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1Tb      butter
1Tb      olive oil
½ cup   dry Marsala wine
1can     Campbell’s© Golden Mushroom Soup
½ cup   chicken broth (salt free)


Season the chicken thighs with the garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Heat the butter & olive oil*  in a Dutch oven on medium-high heat.  Sear the chicken thighs skin side down first until well browned then turn over to brown the other side.  Remove the chicken to a plate.  Drain all but 1Tb of the fat.  Add the onion and cook until well browned on a medium heat.  Once cooked, return to a medium-high heat and add the Marsala wine to the onions being sure to scrape up all the bits that adhered to the pot.  Allow this mixture to reduce for approximately 3 minutes.  Place chicken atop the onion mixture skin side up.  Then take the soup and place it around the chicken thighs.  Don’t cover the thighs completely with the soup.  Add the chicken stock.  Partially cover & cook the chicken over medium-low heat for approximately 40 minutes.  When ready to serve, place the chicken thighs separately on a sheet pan and place under the broiler until skin is nice and crispy.  Reserve the gravy for spooning over the cauliflower puree and then top off with a chicken thigh.

*Adding olive oil while heating butter helps to lower the burning point of the butter. 

Creamy Parmesan Cauliflower Puree

1          large head of cauliflower cut into medium sized florets
½ cup   milk
½ cup   heavy cream
¾ cup   grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt to taste


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add cauliflower and cook until just tender when pierced with a fork.  Don’t overcook.  Drain cauliflower and place in a blender or food processor.  Begin to puree and add milk & heavy cream slowly.  If you prefer a thicker puree, cut back on the amount of milk and heavy cream.  Once pureed, fold in the parmesan cheese and then add salt to taste.