Chicken thighs are on the menu weekly in my house. It's hard to beat their versatility and affordability. This is how I plan to eat them until fresh cherry season — aka the best season — comes to an end. The thighs are cooked in a cast iron skillet until their skin crackles and then they're topped with a quick and easy cherry salsa made with red onion, jalapeño, fresh cilantro, and a big squeeze of lime. When piled onto the chicken thighs, it's an effortless yet elegant summer meal that's as ready for casual weeknights as it is for simple dinner parties out on the back porch.
A Two-Step Method for Foolproof Crispy Chicken Thighs
What I love most about this recipe, aside from the juicy cherry salsa, is how the chicken thighs are cooked. It's a technique I discovered in the Kitchn archives, actually, and one I continue to turn to weekly. Start the chicken thighs in a cold cast iron skillet, skin-side down. Then crank the heat up to medium and go about your business while the thighs cook for 15 minutes and the skin slowly gets ridiculously crispy. Then simply flip them over and toss the skillet in a hot oven for about another 15 minutes. The result is juicy, perfectly cooked meat that doesn't need much more than the salsa to make it a crowd-pleasing meal.
Crispy Chicken Thighs with Fresh Cherry Salsa
2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (4 to 6 thighs)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces (2 cups) sweet cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 small jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed, minced
1 medium lime, halved
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F.
Rub both sides of the chicken with the oil and season both sides well with salt and pepper.
Place the chicken skin-side down in a large, cold cast iron skillet. Place the skillet over medium heat and cook undisturbed until the skin is browned and crisp, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the salsa.
Combine the cherries, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, and the juice of 1/2 the lime in a medium bowl. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed; set aside.
Flip the chicken and squeeze the juice from the remaining 1/2 of the lime over them. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 165°F, 13 to 15 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Spoon the cherry salsa over the chicken and serve.
- Make ahead: The salsa can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.