Chicken Thigh Mistakes That Are Seriously Downgrading Your Dinner
Baking with thighs is all the rage. Here are a few Consolidated tips I picked up from researching.
1. You’re buying the wrong kind.
Any chicken has the potential to get overcooked, which is why we opt for bone-in, skin-on thighs over boneless, skinless. The bone helps keep the meat tender and moist, and the skin gives everything more flavor. Plus, since they’re less processed, bone-in, skin-on thighs are typically more affordable.
2. You’re not patting them dry.
In order to get that gloriously crispy skin that makes chicken thighs totally irresistible, you’ll need to make sure the skin is nice and dry before it hits a skillet. This is as easy as giving them a nice, thorough pat down with a paper towel. However, you get bonus points if you also sprinkle them with salt and leave them skin side up in your fridge for as little as 30 minutes or as long as overnight. The salt will make the meat taste better and will leave the skin nice and dry and ready to get crisp.
3. You’re not sizzling long enough.
If you’re used to primarily cooking boneless, skinless chicken breasts, you might be surprised by the amount of time that it takes to really render out all of the fat that’s present in the skin of a chicken thigh. To avoid chewiness, achieve golden-brown crispy skin, and maximize the flavor, you’ll want to cook the thighs skin-side down for ten or fifteen minutes. If the skin starts to burn, take a look at my next tip.
4. You have the heat cranked up too high.
The goal for chicken thighs is to make sure the skin reaches that gorgeous golden-brown color. In order to achieve this, you might be surprised by how gently you need to cook the skin. I typically start my thighs in a cold pan (yes, cold) and then turn the heat up to medium-low. Letting them go at this temperature allows all of the fat to cook out before anything gets burnt, which allows me to have the ultimately golden skin.
5. Your pan is too small.
Crowded pans are the enemy of crispy edges. I would get that tattooed on my body if I wasn’t so afraid of needles. When you’re crisping up that chicken skin, making sure each thigh has a couple of inches around it is key – if they’re too crowded in the pan, the steam coming off of each thigh will inhibit browning, which is a real shame. While we’re talking pans, let’s make sure you’re using a heavy-bottomed pan, like a cast iron or stainless steel skillet, ok?
6. You’re draining the fat.
You did it! Your thighs are crispy and golden and ready to hit the oven to finish cooking through. If you’re draining the fat at this step, please stop! Instead, use that delicious flavor-carrier to amp up the rest of your meal. Sizzle a few handfuls of greens as a side? Delicious. Toss an in few potatoes and roast them up under the chicken. Absolutely. You’ve worked hard to get your thighs as delicious as possible – don’t throw away that liquid gold you’ve earned.