Big packages of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs seem like a bargain when comparing them to many other meat prices. Usually, these jumbo-sized containers showcase ten thighs, enough to sit in a cozy single layer in a 9-by-13-inch metal roasting pan.
Yes, there is waste. I can remember my grandmother collecting thigh bones off family plates and using them to make chicken stock. Not on most home cooks’ to-do list, but just saying there is value in those naked bones if you’re in a savaging mood.
Pairing trimmed chicken thighs with blackberries is a scrumptious match. The berries are pureed and then mixed with a little brown sugar, minced garlic, and white wine vinegar. It’s a tasty sweet-sour concoction that complements the succulent poultry.
Blackberry Balsamic Chicken Thighs
Yield: 5 two-thigh servings, 10 one-thigh servings
10 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed; see cook’s notes
3 tablespoons dry white wine mixed with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Coarse salt, such as kosher, and pepper to taste
Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh thyme, see cook’s notes
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 tablespoons pureed blackberries, see cook’s notes
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
For serving: 2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
Garnish: additional sprigs of fresh thyme and if desired, a few fresh blackberries
Cook’s notes: Cut off excess chicken skin that hangs loosely over the side. I use clean scissors for this; it is much easier than cutting with a knife. Pull leaves off stems and discard stems. Puree fresh or frozen blackberries in food processor; you will need about 4 to 5 ounces of blackberries.
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken thighs skin-side up in a large, flameproof roasting pan. Combine wine and balsamic and pour over chicken. Scatter on thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Roast 35 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, combine brown sugar, blackberry puree, garlic and vinegar in small bowl or glass measuring cup with a handle. Set 2 tablespoons of mixture aside to use after chicken is cooked.
3. Spoon remaining brown sugar mixture over chicken and bake 20 to 25 minutes, until thoroughly cooked. Remove chicken from roasting pan. Pour pan juices into a fat separating device and set aside for a couple of minutes — the fat will float on the surface. If you don’t have a fat separator, pour into a measuring cup with a handle; allow to rest and fat will float to the surface and spoon off fat. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil to cook orzo.
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4. Pour lean chicken juices back into the baking pan and bring to boil on high heat, scraping sides and bottom of pan. Cook about 2 minutes to reduce in volume; set aside off heat. Cook orzo in boiling water according to package directions. Drain and place on rimmed platter. Pour half of the pan juices on orzo and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Place chicken thighs on top of orzo. Pour remaining pan juices on top of chicken. Spoon a little of the reserved blackberry puree mixture on top of each chicken thigh. Garnish with sprigs of thyme and if desired, a few fresh blackberries.
Cooking question? Contact Cathy Thomas at [email protected] com