I know that saying this recipe gives you the crispiest chicken skin ever is going to be controversial.
Wait until you try it!
You need a little time for it to marinate, so plan ahead.
Chicken Thighs With the Crispiest Skin Ever!
- 12 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
- 24 sage leaves
- 16 garlic cloves—6 cut into 4 slices each, the rest gently smashed and peeled
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 slices
- Strips of zest from 2 lemons
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
- 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Kosher salt
- 12 fresh bay leaves (optional)
- 1 lemon, cut into 1/2-inch slices and seeded
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped oregano
- 1/4 cup chopped mint
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 anchovy fillet
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped drained capers
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Run your fingers under the skin of each chicken thigh to create a pocket. Stuff each pocket with 2 sage leaves, 2 slices of garlic and 1 slice of butter. Transfer the stuffed thighs to a large bowl.
In a small bowl, stir the lemon zest strips with the smashed garlic, olive oil, chopped herbs and crushed red pepper. Pour the mixture over the thighs and gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 450°. On a small baking sheet or oven proof dish, toss the lemon slices with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread the lemon slices in an even layer and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until charred on the bottom. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool for 5 minutes. Chop the slices into 1/4“ pieces and set aside.
Leave the oven on.
In a mortar, or mini-chopper, mash the oregano and mint with the chopped garlic, anchovy, capers and 1 teaspoon of salt until a smooth paste forms. Slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil. Stir in the chopped lemon a little at a time, to taste.
Heat a large ovenproof skillet, big enough to put the chicken in a single layer (or do it in batches) over medium heat. Season the thighs evenly with salt; remove the lemon zest and smashed garlic from the marinade and set aside. Arrange the chicken thighs skin-side down in the skillet. Cover it with another large pan or pot weighted down with a few heavy cans. Cook over moderate heat until the skin is golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes.
Remove the weight and turn the chicken. Scatter the chicken with the reserved lemon zest, garlic and the bay leaves, if using. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through. Discard the bay leaves. Transfer the chicken to a platter, serve with the salsa verde and enjoy!
My verdict: As I said in the intro, we were shocked by how crispy the chicken skin was! I’m definitely going to try this the next time I make a roast chicken.
I used half the chicken (6 thighs), half the sage, garlic, butter and lemon zest but made the whole recipe for the marinade and salsa. Rosemary would work well under the chicken skin too.
I left out the parsley and the bay leaves and don’t think either of them was missed (not sure what would happen with dried bay leaves). I also left out the thyme because I forgot to buy it – that would have been a nice addition. And I zested the lemon on my microplane rather than zesting it into strips.
In three months, all of these herbs will be growing in my garden, so this will definitely get made again (maybe on the grill).
Because the chicken was so good on its own, the salsa verde was a nice but unnecessary addition and might actually be better on some lamb or fish. I’d slice the lemons thinner next time and if I was doing it on the grill would definitely grill them.