Sohla El-Waylly’s Chicken Thighs with Zucchini & Salsa Verde Recipe

published Nov 8, 2023
Seared and Braised Chicken Thighs With Zucchini & Salsa Verde Recipe

Chicken thighs are covered in a super flavorful salsa verde. Serve them with your favorite grain on the side.

Serves4

Prep20 minutes

Cook1 hour

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Seared and Braised chicken thighs in Dutch oven.
Credit: Laura Murray

Seared and braised is the best way to cook chicken thighs. The initial direct heat from the sear develops browning and renders the fat from the skin, so there’s no flabby chicken here. Then the thighs are gently braised in a bright tomatillo salsa while floating on a zucchini raft, so all that connective tissue can break down for tender and juicy meat. As always, if you’ve got the time, season the chicken with salt in advance and let it dry-brine, uncovered, in the fridge, resting on a wire rack for at least 12 and up to 24 hours for even better rendering, browning, and breaking down of those connective tissues. 

Seared and Braised Chicken Thighs With Zucchini & Salsa Verde Recipe

Chicken thighs are covered in a super flavorful salsa verde. Serve them with your favorite grain on the side.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 1 hour

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    tomatillos (about 8 medium), husked and roughly chopped

  • 2

    garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

  • 1

    medium jalapeño, roughly chopped (seeds removed if you like)

  • 2

    medium zucchini

  • 2 tablespoons

    neutral oil

  • 4

    bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 30 ounces)

  • Kosher salt

  • 1

    medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

  • 3

    medium poblano peppers, seeded and cut lengthwise into slices

To Serve:

  • Cilantro

  • Sour cream

  • Warm tortillas

  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  1. In a blender, combine the tomatillos, garlic, and jalapeño and blitz into a smooth purée. (You should not need to add water, the tomatillos have plenty of moisture. Just keep blending, and it will get there.)

  2. Cut the zucchini crosswise into 2-inch sections. Cut each section lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick planks. Stack the planks and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick sticks (you want them to look like zucchini fries).

  3. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 325°F.

  4. In a large Dutch oven (or heavy-bottomed ovenproof pot), heat the oil over medium heat until it shimmers, about 2 minutes. Season the chicken thighs with salt and sear, skin-side down, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Flip the chicken and sear on the other side until browned, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. (If there’s excess fat in the pot, scoop out and discard all but about 2 tablespoons.)

  5. Add the sliced onion and poblanos to the pot and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the chicken, until translucent and tender, about 10 minutes.

  6. Increase the heat to high, add the tomatillo purée and zucchini, and bring to a simmer. Taste and season with salt. Return the chicken to the pot along with any accumulated juices, resting it skin-side up on top of the zucchini so that the skin remains above the surface of the liquid.

  7. Transfer the pot to the oven and bake, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and the zucchini is tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

  8. Serve right away with cilantro, sour cream, warm tortillas, and lime wedges.

Recipe Notes

Credit line: From Start Here: Instructions for Becoming a Better Cook © 2023 by Sohla El-Waylly. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.