When many go to the grocery store to get chicken, they prefer and automatically grab the white meat, skinless chicken breast. It's versatile and often considered healthier than a chicken thigh. To many, however, the dark meat chicken thigh is more flavorful and tender. Some attribute this bias to the ease of cooking something without the bone. Others relate it to dissociation of the breast to something that used to be alive. Regardless of the reason, chicken thigh is often unjustly ignored. To the knowledgeable few, however, chicken thigh is a cheaper option for an easy chicken dinner that is both flavorful and simple…
Bone-In Chicken Thighs
Your butcher shop or the meat section of your grocery store probably offers the option of skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs. This cut takes the least amount of work to get off the chicken. These are a good option because cooking with the skin on will help keep the chicken moist. Removing the skin before eating will reduce calories and fat for those on calorie diets.
If you don’t want to deal with the skin, they also have options with bone but no skin. Though some find these less flavorful, they are much healthier than having skin and for the most part can be cooked in the same way.
Boneless Chicken Thighs
If you don't want to cook with a bone, many stores sell boneless thighs in the meat department or freezer section. These can make for easier preparation of chicken recipes, such as baked Italian style chicken or keto style recipes like Chicken Thighs, with many interesting flavors of thick and starchy sauces. However, it's important to look at the health information because preparation and paring of the chicken can change the health facts. Check the recipe notes and nutritional information to ensure that you are happy with what you are eating, both taste- and nutrition-wise.
Methods of Cooking Chicken Thighs
Chicken thighs can be cooked just like any other chicken part via baking, grilling, roasting or frying. They can be seasoned, stuffed or coated with breading. Health-conscious cooks should look at baking, grilling, and roasting, as they are considered healthier options. For a calorie diet, the best option will depend on the seasonings and sides paired with it.
For grilling or frying on a stove top, you’ll need a cooking pan as well as a plate and perhaps a small bowl to for mixing the seasoning or sauce. Paper towels could also come handy, especially if you are stove-top frying. If you are cooking in the oven, a baking pan, a drip catch, bowls and plates are vital for preparing braised, stuffed or even coated chicken thighs.
Slow cookers are another good option for chicken thighs. As the name suggests, slow cooker preparation has a longer cooking time. But the recipes are often simpler. You just throw in all the ingredients and check back in a few hours when your all-in-one meal will be ready to eat. Fast and easy, slow-cooker recipes are great for cooks who are short on time or looking for fool-proof dishes that don’t require a lot of experience in the kitchen. Also, these dinner recipes are great for the busy family that wants an easy chicken meal on a budget. On the other hand, these slow-cooker options may be harder to cook for one or two, depending on the size of the cooker and the recipe.
Buying Chicken Thighs
Besides thighs, you also have the option to get what's called a leg quarter which, contains the drumstick, as well as the thigh and a bit of the back muscle. You also have options when it comes to the age of the chicken, much like you do with lamb. Juvenile chicken is less than 28 days old, while an adult chicken is older. Both are available in stores.
For baked chicken thighs, the cut you buy will depend on the recipe you are using. If you are roasting or grilling, then any type will work well: skin-on bone-in or bone-out. For a soup or stew, boneless usually works best. When it comes to braising, bone or not doesn't matter. But avoid getting skin-on, as it will become soggy in the oven. On the other hand, if you want to use a glaze, make sure to get skin-on because the glaze will make the skin crispy skin and flavorful.
Health Concerns for Chicken Thigh Recipes
Chicken has a much less fat than red meats and is often the healthy substitute for fattier meats like beef. Chicken meat is generally low in fat, while the skin has a much higher concentration of fat. When comparing cuts of chicken, note that the thighs are usually higher in fat than the breast or wing because the thighs are dark meat. Even without the skin, dark meat chicken has about three times as much fat as white meat. In large quantities, this difference can really add up.
Skin-on chicken thighs up that fat quantity even further compared to white meat chicken. So if you are looking for very healthy low-fat dinner recipes, thigh might not be your best choice. But if you are looking for something flavorful and cheaper, chicken thighs are perfect for your next dinner.
Chicken Thigh Recipes
When looking for chicken thigh recipes, you are likely to find many American dishes. You'll also find meals in the Italian tradition, Keto diet themes, and even gluten-free options. For great ideas, check out the hundreds of recipes that Yummly has on its site! Once you find your favorite, try serving it alongside mashed potatoes with garlic butter, soy sauce infused green beans, and a white wine, if you are feeling like taking your meal up a notch.
Oil Based Variations for Cooking Chicken Thighs
For anyone who’s not a fan of dry rubs and fried food, it can be hard to find good chicken thigh recipes. Luckily for you, Yummly has options that don't include frying oil or dry rubs! With olive oil based recipes, you can still get the dark meat that is a chicken thigh, just in a flavor and texture you love. Try mixing whole garlic cloves and seasonings with a bit of olive oil if you want to go at it on your own. Or take a look at Yummly's large selection and follow step by step. Make sure that you have your meat as well as some basics like salt, black pepper, garlic cloves, olive oil, and Italian herbs so that you don't have to go to the store before cooking an awesome dinner! In no time, you'll be enjoying a home-cooked savory dinner with your choice of wine and side.
Creating Your Own Dinner Using Other Recipes
If you are looking to modify a recipe you found online, try checking the reader interactions and comments for that recipe to see if someone else had made the substitution you are thinking about. This can help with trial and error and produce a better custom chicken dinner recipe. A simple recipe can often have hundreds if not thousands of reader comments, some of them discussing modifications users have made to make the dish unique.