Baked Chicken Thighs: The Most Amazing, Versatile Recipe EVER

Updated on April 18, 2018
Carb Diva profile image

Exploring 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.

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.

Here's the Original Recipe "Tomato Basil Chicken & Rice"

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
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomato strips in oil, chopped (optional: but adds flavor)
  • 1 1/3 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil 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 onion and red peppers; fry for about 3 minutes or until onion is transparent. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, rice, crushed tomatoes and chicken broth. Season with salt, pepper, and dried basil. Bring to a simmer and allow the rice to soak up all the tomato flavors.
  3. Place chicken thighs, meaty side down, over rice. Bring to a boil; rotate the chicken in the tomato 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 fresh basil leaves.

NOTE: The original recipe by CafeDelites.com 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.

A Few Comments from Me

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.

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.

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

Which One Will You Try?

See results

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Linda Lum

    Comments

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      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        6 months ago from Washington State, USA

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

      • Glecerio Tatoy profile image

        Cerio 

        6 months ago

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

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        6 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

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

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        6 months ago from Washington State, USA

        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.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        6 months ago from Washington State, USA

        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.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        6 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        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.

      • Blond Logic profile image

        Mary Wickison 

        6 months ago from Brazil

        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.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        6 months ago from Washington State, USA

        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.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        6 months ago from Washington State, USA

        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.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        6 months ago from Olympia, WA

        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 profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        6 months ago from USA

        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.

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