Chickens don't use their wings much beyond pageantry and the occasional flutter. The job of keeping their bulbous bodies off the ground rests primarily on two little feet buttressed by thighs which do most of the heavy lifting. The result is a part of the body defined by muscle of activity and the various chemicals, proteins and fats which develop the tissue. The meat is turned dark by a combination of proteins used to make the fat which fuels the muscle. The result is gamey-flavor within durable flesh that adapts well to flavor infusions and intense cooking techniques. While the other dark-meat parts of the bird – wings and drumsticks – are regularly gobbled up at bars and picnics, the knowledgeable chefs and home cooks go straight for the thigh – which can be purchased separated from neighboring parts. A quick trim of excessive skin and a thorough seasoning with salt and pepper is all the immediate prep needed for a savory braise, deep-fry, slow-bake, stew or broil. The tenacity of the cut also welcomes marinades or brines prior to preparation and sauces along the way or after. The result is juicy meat locked within firm skin and a depth of flavor high-priced, white-meat breast can never approach.
- 12 cleaned and trimmed chicken thighs (skin on, bone in)
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ cups fresh lemon juice (about 12 lemons)
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- ¼ cup chopped parsley (optional)
- 1 baguette, sliced into 1-inch rounds
- Preheat oven to broil.
- Rinse chicken thighs and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place skin side up in a large baking dish or sheet pan.
- Whisk olive oil slowly into lemon juice, creating an emulsion. Add vinegar, garlic, red pepper and oregano; whisk well.
- Broil chicken skin-side up for 15 minutes (not to close to flame or the skin will burn). Remove from oven. Remove chicken to a platter and drain liquid from pan. Return chicken to pan, skin-side down and broil for ten minutes. Remove from oven. Turn chicken over, pour lemon sauce over top. Return to oven and bake five minutes. Remove from oven, put chicken on a platter and tent with foil. Return pan to oven and allow sauce to reduce for five minutes. Remove from oven. Add parsley (if using). Serve chicken with sauce and bread on the side for dipping.