I think that boneless, skinless chicken thighs may just be the perfect meat. They're inexpensive; even responsibly-raised meat is only a few dollars a pound. They cook quickly, and they have a melting, tender texture no matter what you do to them. I've roasted, grilled, and pan-fried chicken thighs, and they are always quick, easy, and delicious. Here's one recent recipe for a quick weeknight dinner: Spicy, piquant chicken thighs coated with a mix of miso, ginger, and chili paste.
I have another recipe for spicy chicken thighs that I love to make for big dinner party crowds — it has coriander and cumin, along with hot peppers and tomato paste.
This recipe leans more on Asian pantry staples like miso, ginger, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. If you have a small chopper or food processor the paste comes together in a flash. If you don't have a chopper, then finely grate all the ingredients and mash or whisk them together.
Overall, this is a tangy, slightly sweet and salty recipe with a pleasant kick of heat from the chili sauce. I love chicken thighs; they are just so forgiving, and take so well to so many different types of seasonings. I am not a huge fan of really dark meat; I don't like drumsticks nearly so much. But I find that most chicken thighs, especially when they are boneless, taste only slightly darker, and have so much more flavor and a much better texture than chicken breasts.
Spicy Roasted Chicken Thighs with Miso and Ginger
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons miso paste
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 to 6 garlic cloves
1 lemon, zested
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce OR red chili paste
Take the chicken thighs out of their packaging and pat dry.
In a food processor or small chopper whiz the rest of the ingredients until they form a saucy red paste. Dump this over the chicken in a large bowl or pan and mix well. Refrigerate the chicken overnight — or bake immediately.
To bake, heat the oven to 425°F. Spread the chicken in a single layer on a large baking sheet or roasting pan. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping the chicken thighs over once halfway through the baking time. When the internal temperature of the chicken is between 160 and 165°F, take the pan out and let the chicken rest for 5 minutes.
Serve while still piping hot.
(Images: Faith Durand)