I am a huge, huge fan of boneless skinless chicken thighs. They are inexpensive, tasty, and easy to cook. In fact, I find it difficult to mess up chicken thighs. They are just dark enough to stay tender, but not so dark as to put off people who prefer white meat. In the summer I grill these babies every week, especially when I have a big table of people to feed. Everyone who eats regularly at my house has eaten chicken thighs! But in the winter, when I don't feel like stepping outside to the grill, I bake the meat, and it's easy as 1-2-3. Here's what I do. I just love how quick these are. They are truly a weeknight meal. You can come in the door with a package of meat, throw off your coat, pop these in the oven and make a salad, and by the time they're done you'll have just finished opening the wine.
How To Cook Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs in the Oven
What You Need
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sauce or additional seasonings (optional)
9-inch or 8-inch baking dish
1. Buy boneless skinless chicken thighs. I mention this as one of the steps here because I think it's always worth talking about where you get your meat. And I certainly don't mean to be didactic — I think meat is something most of us are conscious of, and we all try to get the best stuff we can. My point is really to say that chicken thighs are one of the cheapest, easiest things to buy organic or pasture-raised. Even at a high-end butcher counter, these only cost me $4/pound, for instance.
2. Heat the oven to 425°F. Put the chicken in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. The most basic seasoning that this meat really needs is salt and pepper. At this point, if I'm not adding another sauce, I drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the meat too, to help it brown well in the oven.
3. Make a baking sauce (optional). If you want to add a little more punch to the chicken, you can make a quick sauce of nearly any oil, acid, and spices. Here, for instance, I combined a couple tablespoons olive oil and about 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar with 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 4 garlic cloves, and a dash of red pepper flakes. I often make Asian-inspired sauces with sesame oil, rice vinegar, and lots of chili garlic sauce. You can also pour pre-made salad dressing over the chicken.
4. Toss the chicken with the baking sauce. Coat the chicken with the sauce.
5. Spread the chicken in the baking dish. No need to grease the dish. Just lay the chicken inside.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken has an internal temperature of 165°F. Boneless skinless thighs cook quickly. Check after 20 minutes, and if they are not quite up to temperature, put back in the oven and continue cooking and checking the temperature in 5-minute increments.
7. Remove the chicken from the oven and rest the meat, covered, for 10 minutes. Cover the baking dish with foil and let the chicken rest. This will help it be more tender. Eat and enjoy!
Another Favorite Recipe: Recipe: Roasted Chicken Thighs with Fennel & Lemon
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(Images: Faith Durand)