Chicken thighs are my favourite part of the chicken to cook with. Crispy chicken skin? Gorgeous. Beautifully cooked bones for chicken stock? Love it. If you needed more convincing, chicken thighs are full of dark meat - which is richer in nutrients like iron and zinc than white meat. Finally, chicken thighs also tend to be more affordable and cook faster than a whole chicken, making it a great option for family chefs who are short on time.
I normally enjoy chicken thighs best with some crispy roast potatoes, but I've been faithfully following Cafe Hailee on Instagram and I'm very inspired by her recipes right now. I love a gal who isn't afraid of an anchovy, I don't know what to tell you.
Anyway, this roast chicken thighs recipe is inspired by Chef Hailee. I have, however, made some tweaks to make it my own. I hope you enjoy!
What you'll need from the shops
A pack of chicken thighs
A fennel bulb
Sugar snap peas
A splash of chicken stock
These are just the kinds of vegetables that I picked up from the farmer's market. I try to shop seasonally because it gives me a quiet sense of superiority. There are no rules here, though. You can sub the fennel out for carrots and the leeks for onions. It's up to you (and your local farmer's market, where you, too, shop seasonally).
I haven't included a carbohydrate here, but this can be served with anything from fresh farm bread to roasted new potatoes.
Hot tip: I just know that this recipe would pair so beautifully with the mint, lime, and yoghurt dressing from my Beer Battered Cauliflower recipe. You can find what you need over there!
How to make this roast chicken thighs recipe
Step One: Prep your kak
The first thing you'll want to do is salt your chicken thighs. Not with the fancy flaky stuff, just regular salt will do. In an ideal world with few demands, you would salt your chicken and let it rest in the fridge overnight. In a good world, you could salt it and let it rest for a few hours. In the real world, you could salt it five seconds before it goes into the oven. Just know that the longer you let salted chicken skin rest, the crispier and more delicious it will be later.
If you did salt and rest your chicken, pat it down with a paper towel before cooking to remove the moisture that the salt will have drawn out.
Now, get out a Dutch oven or an oven-safe pot. Preheat your dish in the oven at about 200 degrees Celcius - you want it to be hot. You'll be cooking the chicken thighs on the stovetop, too, so make sure that your vessel of choice can do both.
Now, chop your veg. I like to slice my fresh produce on the bias because it looks fancy. I don't care how you chop your veg, just do it with a sharp knife. Please.
Tip: you don't have to chop your garlic into itty bitty pieces. You can just slice the head of garlic in half, nestle them in the mixture and call it a day. That's the beauty of a roast.
Step Two: Sear the chicken
At this stage, I'm hoping that your Dutch oven or suitable equivalent is nice and hot. Now, throw a glob of butter in there (it should sizzle) and lovingly place your chicken thighs down. Transfer the whole shebang onto a stove plate that is about medium hot. You want to sear the chicken skin so that it doesn't get soggy while it's in the oven. The browner it gets, the better.
When the chicken skin is brown and crispy looking (on both sides - don't forget to turn them) and there are little dark bits at the bottom of your Dutch oven, remove the chicken with tongs and set aside. Do not clean out the Dutch oven. The little dark bits are called the fond, and they are the key to deliciousness.
Step Three: Chuck in your veggies
Now, throw in your veggies. You can add a bit more butter now so that the vegetables are generously coated. If you have chicken stock on hand, you can pour in a splash to deglaze the bottom of the dish and create a simple sauce for the vegetables to swim in.
Cook them down until they've softened a little. We're not trying to cook them down, just trying to thoroughly coat them in the leftover butter and the delicious, fatty juices that have been released from your chicken thighs.
Step 4: Roast 'em and toast 'em
Now, pop your semi-cooked chicken thighs in their nest of beautiful, jewel-coloured vegetables, skin-side up. Put the entire thing back into the oven at about 180 degrees celcius for about twenty minutes or until the vegetables are lovely and browned. You can always check that the chicken is done all the way through by slicing it with a knife.
Step 6: Serve!
Take everything out, let it rest for five minutes, then plate up a beautiful chicken thigh and a spoonful of roast veggies (don't forget the butter jus from the bottom of the pan). Spoon over your dressing and serve with fresh bread or potatoes.
Don't forget to save the bones for chicken stock!
Life & Style Team