Caramelize anything and the flavor just naturally pops. It doesn’t matter – onions, pan seared asparagus, even lemons just naturally taste better once caramelized. There’s something about heat releasing the natural sugars that brings a new dimension to the dish.
For the longest time, the only chicken parts I would eat were breast meat. I didn’t like the gamey flavor of dark meat. These days, I’ll still eat breast meat but it’s got to be smothered in full flavored sauces. I really think the commercial farming of chickens has bred the taste right out of the meat. I’ve been converting a lot of my breast meat recipes over to thighs. Yeah, I know breast meat is lean while thighs are more fatty. Guess what? Fat is where a lot of flavor comes from. A well-marbled cut of beef has more flavor. Same goes for chicken. Okay, it’s not marbled the same way a steak is marbled, but you get the idea. There’s flavor and texture in fat. And I’m of the school of thought that says use common sense, eat in moderation and life is good.
Roasted Chicken Thighs with Caramelized Lemons
4 large or 8 small skin-on, boneless Chicken Thighs
Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
3 teaspoons Olive Oil, divided
3 sprigs Oregano
1 tablespoon minced Shallot
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
Red Pepper Flakes to taste
1/4 cup White Wine
1/2 cup Chicken Stock
Note: When it comes to the chicken thighs for this dish, you have two options. The first is to ask your butcher to remove the bones from a package of chicken thighs while leaving the skin intact. The other is to do it yourself. Either way, you want the skins without the bones. For whatever reason, you can’t buy chicken with skins but without bones. At least not in the United States. I de-bone my own thighs. That also means buying large thighs, since I am not a skilled butcher and tend to “butcher” the heck out of my thighs. For a simple explanation of de-boning a chicken that is complete with a video and photos, see Rasa Malaysia.
Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Very thinly slice half of lemon; discard any seeds. Cut remaining lemon half into 2 wedges. Set aside. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Coat a large room-temperature skillet with 1 teaspoon oil. Add chicken, skin side down. Place skillet over medium heat and cook, letting skin render and brown, and pouring off excess fat to maintain a thin coating in pan, until chicken is cooked halfway through, about 10 minutes.
Remove chicken from the skillet. Arrange half of the sliced lemons directly on the bottom of the skillet. Place chicken in the pan, skin side up. Scatter the remaining half of lemon slices over chicken. The slices of lemons on top of the chicken will soften; those on the skillet will caramelize.
Transfer skillet to oven, leaving chicken skin side down. Roast until chicken is cooked through, skin is crisp, and lemon slices on bottom of skillet are caramelized, 6-8 minutes.
Set softened lemon slices aside for a moment. Transfer chicken pieces, skin side up, and caramelized lemon slices from bottom of skillet to a warm platter. Place the softened lemon slices back into the skillet. Return skillet to medium heat. Add oregano sprigs, shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Remove skillet from heat. Add wine; return to medium heat and cook until the wine is reduced by half, 1-2 minutes. Add broth; cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Squeeze 1 lemon wedge over the pan sauce, then season sauce with salt and pepper. Taste and increase lemon flavor with the juice from remaining lemon wedge, if desired. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons oil. Return chicken to skillet, skin side up, to rewarm. Serve topped with caramelized lemon slices.
Original Recipe Bon Appétit