These crispy chicken thighs are a family favorite. Crispy chicken skin, juicy thigh meat, and sweet tomatoes that burst with a satisfying little “pop”. This is an easy, tasty, whole foods recipe that’s on the table in just about 35 minutes. A weeknight dinner winner.
Today is our one-month anniversary in our new house. Huzzah! I think we can safely say that we’re fully “moved in”. Well, there is that one lonely box sitting in the master bathtub. I’ll get to it…eventually. And there’s still a laundry list of things to do – rooms to be painted, rugs to be bought, photos to be ordered and hung. But like that box in the bathtub, I’ll get to it…eventually. The necessary business has been taken care of, just in time for Cass to start school on Tuesday.
Other important tasks I’ve been working on? Gettin’ cozy with our local food scene. One of several things that attracted us to Frederick is that it’s largely a farming county, and there are dozens of small family farms offering sustainably grown products and organic whole foods. On the recommendation of a friend, I visited Common Market Coop for such essentials and it. is. amazing. It’s Whole Foods Market on local crack. They have an extensive selection of locally sourced produce, dairy, seafood, and meat, plus a good amount of local artisanal pastas, breads, and other pantry items. I’m in love. Swoon.
I purchased the pastured chicken thighs for this recipe from Open Book Farm via the Common Market. Open Book is located about 20 miles from our house – hello local. And this chicken was processed the day before I bought it – hello fresh. While their chickens are technically not certified organic, Open Book employs the sustainable production practices that we value in our poultry consumption. If you’re interested, you can read more about their growing practices here. And of course, that pastured, super fresh chicken is crazy tasty. You simply cannot enjoy chicken this delicious from a mass market producer.
Crispy Chicken Thighs with Burst Tomatoes Recipe Notes
I’ve been making the same basic recipe for crispy chicken thighs or legs for years and years, slightly changing the herbs or accompaniments based on the season or my whims. The methodology is simple and fail-proof – you start by searing the skin, then sautéing until it’s browned and crispy. Add in herbs and aromatics, and finish it all in the oven. The whole process is done in either my (affiliate link) 10″ Lodge Cast Iron Skillet or (affiliate link) 12″ Calphalon Cast Iron Skillet, both of which transition from stovetop to oven beautifully (plus that rendered chicken fat is so good for pan seasoning). Easy side dishes like quinoa pilaf, simple steamed rice, or sautéed greens can be prepared while the chicken cooks. The process is fast and simple, and the end result is a meal the entire family loves, on the table in just about 35 minutes. The perfect weeknight cooking combo.
I use cherry tomatoes for this recipe because they literally burst in your mouth with a delicious little “pop”. Really fun for kids to eat (just make sure they cool a bit – they can retain a lot of heat!). I imagine grape tomatoes would perform much the same.
This recipe contains a fair bit of garlic – scale up or down to your preference. I use fresh thyme to infuse flavor into both the chicken and tomatoes while they bake, and fresh basil for a bright finish, but you can experiment with with a variety of different herbs. Try oregano or rosemary for baking and chives or tarragon to finish. Or mix and match to your foodie heart’s desire.
I use a bit of white wine to deglaze the pan and create a zippy pan sauce. If you aren’t into cooking with booze, we can’t be friends. I kid, I kid. In place of wine, chicken stock gets the job done. Toss in a splash (about a teaspoon or two) of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar with the broth to replace the acidity you’d otherwise get from wine.
Crispy Chicken Thighs with Burst Tomatoes
- 2 lbs pastured bone-in chicken thighs (4-6 thighs)
- kosher salt
- cracked black pepper
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly slices
- ½ c. dry white wine
- 2-3 fresh thyme sprigs, chopped (about 2 tbsp)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350*.
Pat the thighs dry, and season each side with kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Place a 12” cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the avocado oil to the pan, swirl to coat the pan, and heat until it shimmers. Place the chicken thighs skin side down and sear for 2 minutes at medium high heat. Then reduce heat to medium and cook an additional 6-8 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown and crispy. Remove the chicken and set aside on a plate.
Add the garlic to the pan and saute until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom. Continue to gently stir and scrape until the wine is no longer bubbling, about 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and thyme to the pan and toss to coat in the pan sauce. Nestle the chicken thighs between the tomatoes and transfer to the oven. Bake until the chicken reaches 165* with an instant read thermometer, about 15 mins.
To serve, top each chicken thigh with the burst tomatoes and pan juices. Garnish with fresh basil, and serve immediately.
To keep this Whole 30 compliant, substitute the white wine for an equal amount of chicken bone broth, plus 1-2 tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to replace to acidity from the wine.
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