For the longest time I could not make crispy chicken thighs if my life depended on it. It did not matter if I cooked them in butter or olive oil or if I heated the heat of my pan aggressively, the final product would always be far from my perfectly tanned expectations.
Finally, I figured out that I did some little things wrong. I used all the right ingredients but did not know all the nuanced techniques that can make or break a bird. For example, I did not know how long to salt the meat before, or how to apply the right amount of heat for the right time, and I definitely did not make sure I had properly dried the chicken before I started cooking which is crucial if you ever want to tan. Once I started incorporating all the right techniques into my kitchen (and a lot of patience), I'm glad I started making crunchy chicken thighs all over.
And you can, too! If homemade, crunchy chicken thighs always seem to elude you, try to put these tips, learned through years of practice and advice from experts, into action to make them a reality.
When cooking chicken, patience is important at every step.
From start to finish, securing an end product that's juicy and tender on the inside and crunchy and brown on the outside will take some time. You must be sure that you salt the chicken well in advance, have enough time to let the skin dry out, and let it boil longer than you think. (See details below.)
The next time you want to enjoy a delicious chicken meal, plan ahead and take it slowly and comfortably while you cook. Better yet, make a series of meal preparation Sunday so that you can enjoy juicy, spicy chicken (with no wait) during the week.
For perfectly seasoned chicken legs, salt (or brine) 24 hours before.
Joe Ciriello, president of Dirty Bird to Go in New York City, tells SELF that the restaurant dips its chickens overnight in a salt and herbal saline solution, and that's how far ahead of time, you should also spice up your meat. This gives the salt the time it takes to get fully absorbed in the flesh of the chicken thighs so that they are perfectly flavored and tender. The salt also helps to absorb moisture, an obstacle that can protect the skin from scratches.
To season your chicken thighs, you can either use a brine such as Ciriello or simply brush with salt. If you choose a simple salt coating, use one teaspoon of salt per pound of meat and rub it in thoroughly and evenly.
Brining is a great way to fill the meat with other flavors such as herbs or herbs peppercorns or spices. You can use these ingredients in any amount, plus about 4 teaspoons of salt per 1 liter of water. Make sure you rinse the brine before cooking, otherwise your chicken will taste like it's been bathed in the sea.
Make sure that the chicken is as dry as possible before you cook it.
The Dryer Chicken is (especially the skin), the lighter it gets crispy and brown. Therefore, you should wipe your bird with a paper towel or a cloth that you do not mind contaminating with chicken juice before cooking. Seadon Shouse, a chef at Halifax in Hoboken, New Jersey, prefers to keep chicken thighs air-dried in the fridge for a day or two. "This will help you get a juicy piece of meat that has a crispy, golden skin," he says.
Start burning chicken thighs down the skin side at high heat.
In a sturdy pan ( cast iron is best suited for the job.) Add enough fat, such as olive oil or butter, to the pan to cover the bottom. Wait until the pan is quite hot before adding the chicken, then place it on the skin side and do not touch it for eight to ten minutes. (If you do not like the skin and decided to remove it, put it on both sides.) Direct, uninterrupted contact between heat and skin is what creates the crunchy texture we all know and love, and it moving early may slow down or stop the tanning process, so do not raise the chicken and do not look into the skin. If you use a cast-iron pan, you know it's ready when the chicken naturally comes off the pan. Otherwise, start the eight-minute mark exam.
Then turn it over and cook for a few more minutes. Resist the urge to cover it while it is cooking.
After the skin is brown and crispy, flip thighs over and allow to boil for two to three minutes until the second side is brown.
Shouse says that many people cover their chicken with a lid or foil while cooking, but it's not a good idea, as it can trap moisture and turn it from crunchy to mushy in no time. If you have already cracked your chicken, do not cover it to finish cooking it.
Transfer crispy thighs to the oven to finish cooking.
If you cook them, there is a risk that the chicken thighs will dry out too long on a stove – they will stay wetter when done in the oven. Transfer your partially cooked chicken thighs to an oven set at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. (If you are using a cast-iron pan or other oven-proof pan, you can just plug it directly into the oven.) Let the thighs boil until they run clear of juices and they have a temperature of 165 degrees F. This should take about 10 minutes take.
Remove the thighs from the oven, let them rest for five to ten minutes and then dig in.
Put your new chicken thigh skills to work in these recipes:
Marinated fennel with chicken and wild rice
Crunchy brown chicken skin goes perfectly with this earthy dish of fennel and wild rice. Get the Recipe here .
Pan Chicken Thighs with Peaches, Rocket and Quinoa
Sweet peaches are the perfect complement to spicy chicken and nutty quinoa in this dish. The recipe is available here .
Salsa verde quinoa with chicken thighs
Cook the chicken separately from the quinoa until crisp. Then boil it with the gravy and grains. The recipe is available here .
Roast Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potato and Asparagus
This vegetable will absorb a number of great flavors from your perfectly tanned and caramelized chicken thighs. The recipe is available here .