In the T.B.C. (Time Before Children), I took a handful of cooking classes at the International Culinary Institute in Manhattan. They were always fun, and I most certainly took away lots of good tips. It was at I.C.E that I was taught that the best piece of a chicken to cook is the thigh, because it is a darker meat with more fat than the breast and thus considerably more flavor. If you try this dish of Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes and Shallots, where you brown and then bake the chicken thighs with a classic technique, you will quickly understand this truism.
Boy, I really do miss the ability to take those classes. I am still bitter that I missed that knife skills class I was supposed to take with my husband in like 2005 because some stupid lawyer I was working for insisted I turn his corrections on a brief before morning even though it wasn’t due to be filed for another week. To this day, my husband blows me away with his knife skill techniques — chopping up an onion in no time flat and carving a whole chicken like a pro. In contrast, my knife skills are far from impressive and slightly scary. Now, instead of learning from the pros, I fumble around the internet putting random questions into google and hoping that I will pick up some nifty trick. Or, more often I just wing it. But I digress.
You can cut down on the fat considerably by buying boneless and skinless pieces of chicken thighs and trimming any excess fat you may still see. But you want some of that fat because after browning the chicken thighs and baking them in a tomato, shallot and wine bath for an additional 20 minutes, you will find that the fat is what makes the chicken thighs incredibly moist and delicious and much more satisfying than a chicken breast. Having said that, if you are dieting, it would be very easy to substitute a breast for a thigh. Just cut down on the cooking time in the oven. But you will be sacrificing taste in my opinion. I’d rather exercise portion control and have the thigh.
This recipe is relatively simple to make, and with a small amount of energy can be accomplished on random week night or impress guests on the weekend too. Once you’ve got the chicken thighs browned (about 6 minutes), the shallots sauteed (another 4-5) and you toss in the fresh herbs, spices and tomatoes with that chicken, you simply pop it in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. I recommend serving it with brown rice and grilled asparagus (as pictured) or sauteed spinach or kale.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 6 chicken thighs
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
- 2 tsp fresh basil
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup white wine
- Ground sea salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Brown chicken in hot oil in a small dutch, approximately 5-6 minutes.
- Remove chicken from pan.
- Add additional oil if needed and saute garlic and shallots until soft and translucent. Add tomatoes, herbs and wine. Return chicken to pot and bring to a simmer.
- Cover pot and put in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.