Roasted chicken thighs are probably one of my favorite recipes. The reason I love them is just how versatile the concept is. If you can master the technique you can literally do almost any flavor style you can imagine. My recommendation is start French (like these) and then experiment from there.
This time around I decided to take this in the direction of Moroccan. Rob actually suggested the concept based on a dish I had last time we were in Sonoma. We went to Glen Ellen Star, which is an awesome little restaurant in Glen Ellen (shocking, I know) that is one of our all-time favorites. Anyway, I had ordered a za’atar roast chicken that I absolutely loved (interesting za’atar featured heavily on the menu at the time which was my first real exposure to it).
Like that chicken I had, I coated the chicken in za’atar prior to searing the skin to give it the flavor. The braising liquid also included a number of classic flavors. The main elements were onion, garlic, mint, and preserved lemon. If you have never used preserved lemon, you should definitely give it a shot. It is essentially a pickled lemon which makes them a little salty. The trick is just to use the peal/rind; the inside packs a pretty salty taste which would likely not be good for your dish.
I roasted these open-topped to ensure that the skin stayed extra crispy. I started making this style a long time ago as more of a closed-lid braise. This was great because it locked in the moisture, but the skin didn’t really keep its crispiness. They key to an open roast is providing enough liquid to cover the underside of the thigh without touching the skin.
Moroccan Roast Chicken Thighs
- 6 Chicken Thighs dried & trimmed
- 2 Tbs Za’atar
- 1/2 Yellow Onion diced
- 5 Garlic Cloves smashed
- 1 Preserved Lemon peel only
- 8 Mint Leaves chopped
- 2 Tbs Champagne Vinegar
- 1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- In a skillet, heat the 1 tbs butter and 1 tbs olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Pat the chicken thighs dry, trim off excess skin, and coat the skin side with za’atar and salt/pepper.
- Cook the chicken skin side down for about 7 minutes and nicely browned (work in batches if needed).
- Remove from the chicken from the skillet and set aside. Reduce heat to medium.
- Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the garlic, lemon peel, and mint, cook for about 1 minute.
- Add the vinegar and allow to reduce for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the chicken thighs back in, add the broth so that the thighs are slightly submerged in the liquid.
- Roast for about 35 minutes.