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Baked Chicken Thighs: The Most Amazing, Versatile Recipe Ever

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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Behold!

I love rice (I'm the Carb Diva). I love chicken. And I love tomatoes, garlic, and spices. Put them all together in one dish, and you have:

  • fantastic flavors and balance of textures
  • a complete dinner in one pot—just add a salad
  • everything I want in one magnificent dish

I discovered this recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago, and my family asks for it every week.

A Few Comments From Me

Note: The original recipe by CafeDelites suggests that one remove the cover, change oven settings to broil, and then grill for a further 8-10 minutes or until the chicken is crispy and golden. Mine was perfectly cooked, even the first time with the skin left on, so I skipped this step.

My personal feeling is that this dish, cooked with skin on, becomes a bit greasy. I prefer to remove the skin after step 1. The thigh meat still remains moist and tender (in my humble opinion).

I would suggest that you try the original recipe once, and then, the second time you cook this, consider whether or not you want to prepare it with the skin off or on.

Whatever way you choose, I am confident that you will want to cook this dish again and again.

Yes, This Is Strange

I recognize that this is not my normal article. I am known for my explorations on food history, where particular dishes dawned, the etymology of cooking terms, the archaeological evidence of where plants originated.

However, sometimes you find that you really can't improve on perfection. But... you can give it a different spin, and that's what I plan to do here.

What A Great Start!

As I said, chicken thighs (moist and succulent), rice, and tomato (savory) are a great platform. We're at the starting gate. Let's see how we can modify the ingredients to give this some different "spins."

Tex-Mex Chicken Thighs

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 1/3 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 2 cups salsa (mild or medium, depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • sour cream and guacamole to garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200°c | 400°F. Heat the oil in a large, deep ovenproof cast iron skillet/or pan (over 30 cm or 12-inches). Add the chicken, skin side down; sear for 3-4 mins on medium-high heat. Turn each thigh and sear until golden all over. Transfer the chicken to a warm plate. Remove the chicken skin.
  2. Add the garlic; fry until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the onion; fry for about 3 minutes or until onion is transparent. Stir in the rice, salsa, and chicken broth. Season with salt. Bring to a simmer and allow the rice to soak up all the tomato flavors.
  3. Place chicken thighs, skin side up, over rice. Bring to a boil; rotate the chicken in the salsa sauce to coat; cover with foil; transfer to preheated oven and allow to bake for about 40 minutes, or until the rice has softened and absorbed the liquid and the chicken is cooked through. Stir through an extra 1/4 cup of water to the rice only if needed (if rice hasn't cooked fully).
  4. Garnish with cilantro and sour cream and guacamole if desired.
chicken-thighs-the-most-amazing-versatile-recipe-ever

Asian-Inspired Chicken Thighs

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and then diced
  • 1 1/3 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200°c | 400°F. Heat the oil in a large, deep ovenproof cast iron skillet/or pan (over 30 cm or 12-inches). Add the chicken, skin side down; sear for 3-4 mins on medium-high heat. Turn each thigh and sear until golden all over. Transfer the chicken to a warm plate.
  2. Add the garlic; fry until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the onion and red peppers; fry for about 3 minutes or until onion is transparent. Stir in the rice, soy sauce, hoisin, and chicken broth. Season with Chinese 5 spice powder. Bring to a simmer and allow the rice to soak up all the savory flavors.
  3. Place chicken thighs over rice. Bring to a boil; rotate the chicken in the sauce to coat; cover with foil; transfer to preheated oven and allow to bake for about 40 minutes, or until the rice has softened and absorbed the liquid and the chicken is cooked through. Stir through an extra 1/4 cup of water to the rice only if needed (if rice hasn't cooked fully).
  4. Garnish with cilantro and slivered almonds if desired.

Moroccan Chicken Thighs

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 1/3 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup diced Kalamata olives
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200°c | 400°F. Heat the oil in a large, deep ovenproof cast iron skillet/or pan (over 30 cm or 12-inches). Add the chicken, skin side down; sear for 3-4 mins on medium-high heat. Turn each thigh and sear until golden all over. Transfer the chicken to a warm plate.
  2. Add the garlic; fry until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the onion; fry for about 3 minutes or until onion is transparent. Stir in the rice, crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, and kalamata olives. Season with cinnamon, salt, pepper, and turmeric. Bring to a simmer and allow the rice to soak up all the spicy-tomato flavors.
  3. Place chicken thighs, skin side up, over rice. Bring to a boil; rotate the chicken in the sauce to coat; cover with foil; transfer to preheated oven and allow to bake for about 40 minutes, or until the rice has softened and absorbed the liquid and the chicken is cooked through. Stir through an extra 1/4 cup of water to the rice only if needed (if rice hasn't cooked fully).
  4. Garnish with mint leaves.

French-Inspired Chicken Thighs

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large leek, white part only, sliced, about 1 cup (see video below about cleaning)
  • 1 1/3 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Herbs de Provence*
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200°c | 400°F. Heat the oil in a large, deep ovenproof cast iron skillet/or pan (over 30 cm or 12-inches). Add the chicken, skin side down; sear for 3-4 mins on medium-high heat. Turn each thigh and sear until golden all over. Transfer the chicken to a warm plate. (At this point I remove the chicken skin. See my comment below).
  2. Add the garlic; fry until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the leek; fry for about 3 minutes or until leek is softened. Stir in the rice and wine. Cook until wine is almost completely evaporated.
  3. Stir in chicken broth. Season with salt, pepper, and dried Herbs de Provence. Bring to a simmer and allow the rice to soak up all the herbal flavors.
  4. Place chicken thighs, meaty side down, over rice. Bring to a boil; rotate the chicken in the sauce to coat; cover with foil; transfer to preheated oven and allow to bake for about 40 minutes or until the rice has softened and absorbed the liquid and the chicken is cooked through. Stir through an extra 1/4 cup of water to the rice only if needed (if rice hasn't cooked fully).
  5. Garnish with fresh tarragon leaves.

* Herbes de Provence is a Provençal mixture of marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and lavender

© 2018 Linda Lum

Comments

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 18, 2018:

Cerio thank you for stopping by to comment. I do hope that you like these. The original is still my favorite.

Cerio on April 18, 2018:

These dishes are to die for. Want to cook one of this dishes soon. Thanks for sharing, Linda Lum!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 17, 2018:

Cool I am all in on chimichurri sauce. Perfect as I can adjust the salt - that store stuff is not all that healthy.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 17, 2018:

Eric, last night my older daughter and I made some chimichurri sauce. It would be GREAT drizzled on top of your Tex-Mex version of this.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 17, 2018:

Good morning Mary. Yes, I'm quite certain that you could do this on your stovetop. I would put on simmer (lowest temperature) as if you are cooking a pot of rice (and actually, you are). If you do not have a tight-fitting lid, place a sheet of foil between the pot and lid to help seal.

I have a Calphalon pan that I use for EVERYTHING. It's non-stick, stove-top and oven-safe and has a wonderful lid that seals in all the moisture like a charm.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 17, 2018:

Oh baby it is Tex Mex for this cowboy. I will make sure I have all the stuff today. Friday is Chicken night. Skin stays on but that means I have to sacrifice during the day and treat myself for dinner.

I noticed today that you did tell a history of sorts by the differing recipes. Clearly a demographic historical situation. Thanks for adding some spice of life to my home.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on April 17, 2018:

I need to try this because since we have lived in Brazil (9 years), I fry virtually all our food. It's amazing I'm still alive! That is with the exception of a yearly lasagna or enchilada dish.

My oven is temperamental, could I do this on top of the stove and just cover it?

All of them sound delicious.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 17, 2018:

Bill, I think you'll be pleased. The leftovers (if there are any) are pretty darned tasty too. Use a good-quality rice and you'll be rewarded. Let me know how it goes.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 17, 2018:

Flourish, once upon a time we ate only boneless, skinless chicken breasts. (You can get them really cheap at Costco). But then one day my local grocer 'made me an offer I couldn't refuse.' Thighs have more flavor and, if you remove the skin, aren't that much worse than the breast portions. So we have expanded our horizons. I think you'll like this.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 17, 2018:

I am in love with chicken as well. I've never seen a bad chicken recipe, so this one will be tried. Thank you my friend. Let's hope the rains subside soon before the floods arrive.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 16, 2018:

If you liked that recipe that much it’s certainly worth a try. I’m going to experiment on my family. The fact that it’s thighs means it’s cheaper.