Mediterranean Chicken Thighs

I struggle with ways to cook meats like pork chops and chicken thighs with a little creativity.  My plan tonight was to put my Ault’s Family Farm chicken thighs in a baking dish with some of my homemade salsa and be done with it.  I had time to cook tonight so I figured I should be a little more adventurous.  And I still have a fridge full of farmers’ market produce that needs  to be used up so the salsa plan wasn’t going to address any of that.  On to plan B, a new recipe from Cooking Light.

This recipe allowed me to use up the chicken thighs, leeks and a red pepper.  Since I had a pepper in the fridge I used that instead of the bottled peppers in the recipe. I think that worked just fine.  My other alterations were completely out of necessity.  I didn’t have any sage (left it out).  I used smoked paprika (didn’t have the sweet kind).  I used vegetable broth (my chicken broth is soup quality so I didn’t want to waste it here).  And I’m embarrassed to admit that I used bottled lemon juice because I’m out of the real thing.  That’s a first.  Still, everything came together really nicely – not quickly – but nicely.  Oh, and I threw in 2 cloves of roasted garlilc because everything is better with roasted garlic.

My first piece of advice is that you shoudn’t start this unless you’re willing to wait 45 minutes to an hour to eat.  Braising chicken thighs takes a while.  Second, a reminder about dealing with leeks.  Slice them and swish them in a bowl of water to help get the grit off.  Then let them sit so the dirt will sink to the bottom of the bowl.  Finally, pour the broth in carefully or you’ll wash the spices off of the chicken.  Alternatively you can add the spices to the top of the chicken thighs after you’ve added the broth.  Not much else in the way of advice.  That’s the nice thing about braising – the pot does most of the work.

The flavors in this are really nice.  I might have used a milder olive than the kalamatas.  The olives are so briny that the contrast is a little stark against the buttery leeks and very mellow red pepper.  The recipe calls for you to serve this with orzo.  I served mine plain to reduce the carbs and calories a little.  That was the wrong call.  It’s such a brothy dish, and the broth is so yummy, that you’ll want something to soak up the soupy goodness.  I recommend rice or crusty bread.  And I recommend serving this in a bowl.  I served mine on a plate with squash and onions on the side.  Squash and onions goes with everything so that was all good, but the plate was a runny mess.

This is a good dish.  Even very good.  I’m not positive it’s good enough for me to work my way through 6 servings this week though.  It almost seems more like a Winter dish and it’s too hot to eat a wintery dinner all week.  I’m guessing 3 servings and I’ll freeze the rest.  Or maybe I’ll take some to a neighbor.  It’s absolutely good enough to share.

Good? Definitely.
Easy? Yep, just takes a while.
Good for company? Sure, not fancy, but good.
Special shopping? Nope.

Mediterranean Chicken Thighs

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped leeks (about 3 large)
6 (4-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cloves roasted garlic
3/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 T bottled lemon juice

Directions

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Arrange red pepper strips over leeks. Arrange chicken over pepper strips. Sprinkle chicken with thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and paprika. Add garlic. Gently pour the broth around chicken; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Turn chicken over; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add olives and lemon juice to pan; stir to combine. Cook, uncovered, 8 minutes or until chicken is done.
Serve over rice or with crusty bread.

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