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Garlic chicken thighs a festive alternative

Garlic chicken thighs a festive alternative

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Here it is, the day before Thanksgiving, and I’ve written up a recipe for chicken. But why? Even though feasting on turkey is a Thanksgiving tradition, many of you may not like that particular bird. And even if you do, why spend the effort cooking a multi-pounder if you’re not celebrating with lots of friends or family to gobble it up?

The chicken thigh recipe here is festive enough for a party of just a few people or even for one or two with delicious leftovers. Garlic is the main flavoring, but its presence is subtle. How can that be when there’s one-half cup of it? I use it here to punch up the umami in the chicken and in the Brussels sprouts and carrots. Roasting smoothens the harshness in raw garlic and if you didn’t know it was there, you may not even taste it as garlic.

For the chicken, you make a paste of garlic, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning and spread it on the flesh side of the thighs. Over time, the flavors penetrate the flesh. Even an hour is sufficient, but you could do this step hours ahead and refrigerate the chicken. Just bring it to room temperature before cooking.

The skin is essential in this recipe because it fries into a crackly crisp contrast to the succulent meat. And its rendered fat adds a special deliciousness to the Brussels sprouts and carrots.

Only a few ingredients go into the making of this savory dish that’s great anytime. But it’s how they go in that produces the magic. Happy cooking! And Happy Thanksgiving!

Garlic Chicken Thighs with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Carrots

Makes 4 to 6 servings

One-half cup of finely chopped garlic gets divided between the chicken and the vegetables in this terrific dish. You make a paste with most of the garlic to season the chicken and cook the rest with the Brussels sprouts and carrots. After a brief stovetop cooking of the chicken and vegetables, you pop the dish into a hot oven for a 25-minute roasting, and that’s it.

The Garlic

1/2 cup chopped garlic (medium fine)

The Chicken

6 large bone-in and skin on chicken thighs (2 1/2 pounds)

5 tablespoons of the chopped garlic

2 teaspoons table salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

The Vegetables

1 pound Brussels sprouts

2 large carrots (8 ounces)

The Cooking

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Remaining 3 tablespoons of the chopped garlic

1 teaspoon table salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper

2 tablespoons dry white wine or water

1. Prepare the garlic. You’ll need about one head, maybe more, depending on the garlic you use.

2. For the chicken thighs, trim off excess skin and any obvious large lumps of fat. Pat the skin dry and turn the chicken flesh side up. In a mortar and pestle, pound the 5 tablespoons garlic with the salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to make a paste. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning on a board with a fork to make a paste. Divide into 6 portions—there will be about 6 teaspoons—and spread the paste on the chicken—fingers work best. Set aside while you prepare the vegetables. (Chicken may be prepared to this point hours ahead, covered loosely, and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before cooking).

3. For the vegetables. Trim the bottoms off the Brussels sprouts, remove any loose leaves, and cut the sprouts in half lengthwise. Peel the carrots and cut them in half lengthwise. Cut the halves lengthwise and then crosswise in two. You’ll have 16 carrot pieces.

4. For the cooking. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. When hot, place the chicken skin side down in the pan and raise the heat to medium high. Cook 7 to 8 minutes, until the chicken skin is well-browned. Turn the chicken over, reduce the heat to medium, and cook another 2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, and remove the chicken to a sheet pan, skin side up.

5. Return the skillet to medium heat (there will be fat in the pan rendered from the chicken skin and some of the garlic paste that fell off the chicken). Add the Brussels sprouts, carrots, remaining 3 tablespoons garlic, salt, pepper, and wine. Toss and cook for 5 minutes, scraping up any browned bits that have stuck to the pan. Take the pan off the heat. Strew the Brussels sprouts and carrots around the chicken.

6. The dish may be prepared to this point an hour or so ahead. For the final cooking, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the pan into the oven, and bake about 25 minutes, until the sprouts and carrots are tinged with brown and the chicken is completely cooked through. Test with a sharp knife. It should pierce the chicken flesh easily. Serve on heated plates.

Greg Patent is a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author for “Baking in America,” a food journalist, blogger, and radio co-host for “The Food Guys” on Montana Public Radio. Please visit his blog, www.thebakingwizard.com, and follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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