Whenever I use my pepper grinder I feel like such a gourmet. Or when a recipe calls for an uncommon spice (by which I mean something besides salt and/or pepper) and I 1. know what it is and 2. have some residing in my spice cupboard, I wonder why the Food Network hasn’t called me to host their newest show. But the best feeling by far is when you see a new technique or recipe on a cooking show, try it, and succeed. I’ve been gleaning America’s Test Kitchen and my grocery store for ideas on how to cook less expensive cuts of meat. I found chicken thighs on sale so I bought two packages and threw them in the freezer, since I hadn’t found a recipe to use them in. Chicken thighs are great because they are more moist and flavorful than chicken breasts when cooked, thanks to the skin and bones. They are not great because while they are inexpensive you have to deal with the skin and bones and figure out a recipe that makes good use of the skin and bones or skin and de-bone them yourself.
A week later I finally settled on a variation of roasted chicken breasts I had seen on America’s Test Kitchen. I thawed the chicken and mixed up a batch of sweet and sour sauce. I put the chicken in my crock pot and poured half the sauce over the thighs. I didn’t remove the skin or bones. The value of inexpensive cuts of meat is taken away if I have to spend time de-boning or skinning. I know what you’re thinking: You left the skin on a piece of chicken and cooked it in a crock pot? Do you enjoy soggy, chewy rubbery skin on your chicken? Yuck! Just wait, dear reader, just wait.
I left the thighs in the slow cooker for about 5 hours. Initially on high, then turned it to low after 2.5 hours. I follow a very scientific process with my slow cooker that goes something like this: Hmmmm, my slow cooker cooks kind of hot. I’m in a hurry so I will put it on high and try to remember to turn it down in a couple of hours.
Now, here is the moment of triumph. Are you ready? I turned my oven on to broil and I took the thighs out of the slow cooker and placed them in a baking dish. I moved my oven rack up to the slot that was second from the top. Then I put the chicken in for a few minutes. I have to confess, I forgot to set the timer. I just happened to remember to check the chicken after a few minutes. I think the kitchen gods were pulling for me because what I pulled out was nothing short of heavenly. Golden roasted chicken thighs with just a hint of blackening to make it look pretty and colorful. I served them with rice, broccoli and more sweet and sour sauce. The chicken was moist, moist, moist. (Thank you bones, skin and crock pot). The skin had crisped up perfectly and was delicious. Victory!
Here is the recipe for sweet and sour sauce:
1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup white vinegar
½ cup ketchup
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp salt
soy sauce-to taste
Bring to a boil in a medium sauce pan. After it comes to a boil thicken with about 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch that has been dissolved in about 1/3 cup cold water.
Roasted Chicken Thighs (Serves 4-6)
1 package chicken thighs, thawed (about six)
1 recipe sweet and sour sauce
Place chicken thighs in a slow cooker, skin-side up. Pour half of the sweet and sour sauce over the thighs. Cook on high for 2.5 hours, then change to low for another 2.5 hours. If you put the chicken in earlier in the day you could just cook them on warm or low for about 6-8 hours. 15 minutes before you eat, turn your oven on to broil. When the chicken is done, place it in a shallow baking pan and let it broil in the oven for about four minutes. Serve with rice and the rest of the sweet and sour sauce.