Easy Dark meat chicken recipes?

linnea56January 20, 2014

My husband and I both love the richer flavor of the dark meat. I'd like to find more everyday recipes that exploit the flavor, rather than just use it in soup or any chicken recipe. But I have only one recipe that really shows it off (a braised one). He does the shopping (he enjoys it), and usually buys chicken with bones in, then takes the skin off himself. Thanks!

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I'm not really sure what it means to "exploit" flavor. Do you mean you want more flavor of the chicken, and not a lot of herbs/spices, casserole-type mixtures?

I recently found a couple recipes I liked at the link below, and maybe they will inspire you. Even though they are designed for chicken thighs, they'll work just as well with leg quarters or other pieces/parts you like.


Here is a link that might be useful: Good Housekeeping

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 4:07PM
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I tried something last night with chicken thighs and DH couldn't stop raving. Very simple. I skinned the thighs and cut the meat from the bone. From each thigh I cut 3 or 4 small cutlets. Seasoned some flour with a little Greek seasoning, dredged the chicken in the mixture, then browned the pieces lightly in a little olive oil and butter. Removed the cutlets to a platter. Sliced about 10 mushrooms and diced half a small onion. I left about a tablespoon of oil in the pan and sautéed the mushrooms and onions until soft. I did cheat and used jarred chicken gravy, which I added to the mushrooms and onions. Then I placed the cutlets back into the pan, making sure to coat them entirely with the gravy and simmered on very low for about 5 minutes to finish cooking the cutlets. I steamed broccoli spears and made garlic mashed potatoes as well. I just finished eating what was left for my lunch. Easy, quick, and surprisingly tasty for what few ingredients I used.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 4:33PM
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I use dark meat in almost any recipe in place of white meat. It's a smaller portion (more like we're supposed to eat), less expensive and adds more flavor. Some things I refuse to change. I won't use dark meat in chicken marsala, for instance. Mostly, just use them in any recipe even if it lists breasts, and the taste of the recipe is already increased! Recipes geared towards thighs/legs? I'd have to look. Off the top of my head, I use thighs in place of breast meat when I grill, e.g. tequila lime or asian marinade. Grilled is way better with dark meat.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 4:52PM
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Use pulled pork recipes, just don't cook as long.

Also confit recipes.

Smoked flavor works great on dark meat. (Liquid Smoke, if you don't have a smoker)


    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 4:53PM
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Wasn't one of the cookalongs for chicken thighs? Maybe one of the search gurus can dig it up.

Otherwise here are a few of our favs:

Greek Chicken Thighs
Serves 5-6

2-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of black pepper

Honey Lemon Drizzle
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice

In a large bowl, mix together olive oil, garlic powder, salt,oregano and pepper. Add chicken thighs and coat chicken well with olive oil mixture. Set aside until ready to cook. (You can do this ahead of time and just leave it covered in the refrigerator until needed.)

Move oven rack as close to top as possible. Preheat oven to 500. Place chicken on cookie sheet or roasting rack in a single even layer. Cook for about 8 minutes. While chicken is cooking, mix together lemon juice and honey. After chicken is fully cooked, drizzle honey lemon juice mixture over. Return chicken to oven for another 1-2 minutes, or until it is slightly charred and golden.

For additional flavor, you can drizzle more honey and lemon mixture if you so desire.
Basque Chicken and Rice - serves 4-6
2 TB olive oil
8 pieces of chicken (I used thighs, no skin, bone in)
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
opt. small jar of strips of pimento
opt. 1/2 cup halved olives
2 cups rice (I used the yellow rice package)
4 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
opt. pinch of saffron
opt. pinch of smoked paprika
Heat a large saucepan or Le Creuset French oven on the stove top, add oil, saute chicken pieces until browned, remove to a platter. Add garlic, onion, bell pepper and saute until onion is transparent.
Deglaze pan with about 1/4 cup water. Return chicken to the pot and add rest. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to a simmer. Cook 25 minutes or until rice is tender.

Chicken in Caramel Sauce - Sol
This recipe is from the Washington Post, which adapted it from a recipe from the Slanted Door restaurant that appeared in a cookbook called The Secrets of Success: Signature Recipes and Insider Tips from San Fran’s Best Restaurants by Michael Bauer…
1/2 C packed dark brown sugar
1/4 C water
1/4 C Asian fish sauce
3 T rice vinegar
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp thinly sliced fresh ginger
1/2 to 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (1/2 usually enough for me)
2 small chili peppers, fresh or dried, halved (I always use fresh)
1 T canola oil
1 shallot thinly sliced
1 1/2 - 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh meat, cut into bite-size pieces (can use a combo of light and dark meat, if you prefer)
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, water, fish sauce, vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, pepper, and chilis, and mix well. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat (can also use a wok, but I’ve had better luck w/a skillet). Add shallot and cook, stirring, until brown, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned on each side but not cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Stir the reserved sauce mixture and add to skillet. Bring mixture to boil, reduce heat to med-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by about half and the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove and discard the chili peppers. Remove pan from heat, set aside until sauce has thickened and cooled slightly, about 3 minutes.
Serve with rice.
Note: This is traditionally a Vietnamese dish. If you haven’t cooked w/fish sauce before, you’ll notice that it’s pretty stinky before it’s cooked (!), but when the sauce is all together it gives it a really distinctive flavor that would be difficult to duplicate without it. I’m able to get it in my local grocery store, but if you can’t, then Asian markets will be sure to have it.
The dish can be more spicy or less, depending what you do w/the pepper and chilis. If I want it less spicy, I remove all the seeds from the chilis before adding them to the sauce. This time, I left most of the seeds in, and it was very spicy. Probably there’s a happy medium and it would be spicy enough w/about half the seeds. If you prefer it to be more sweet than spicy, remove all the seeds and use a bit less black pepper (even tho I like it spicy, I never need more than 1/2 tsp of pepper).
One problem I have is that the chicken is usually done faster than the sauce is reduced. It doesn’t particularly suffer as a result, but it would probably help if I used a larger skillet so the chicken could brown faster while cooking for a shorter time.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 5:12PM
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Fried chicken
Chicken cacciatore
Teriyaki chicken (bake or grill)
Lemon pepper chicken (bake or grill)
BBQ Shake N Bake

Thighs are my favorite part of the chicken. Now I've to go check the freezer! LOL

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 5:56PM
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I dredge them (skinless) in non-fat Greek style yogurt, then roll in roughly crushed unsweetened cereal flakes (I use Weetabix) or panko mixed with garlic powder and herbs to taste (and sometimes some parmesan) then bake on a rack in the oven @ 375 for 30-35 min or so depending on size and whether they are boned or not. Makes a really nice fried chicken substitute, lower fat and calories. I also do chicken tenders and breast pieces this way.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 6:04PM
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This recipe is easy and delicious! A few folks here have tried the recipe and concur!

Jacques Pepin's Crusty Chicken Thighs with Mushroom Sauce

Yield: 4 servings

4 large chicken thighs, about 1 3/4 pounds total, skin on
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup diced onion
1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
3 cups washed and diced white mushrooms or cremini mushrooms
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives or green portion of green onion

1. Arrange chicken thighs skin side down on a cutting board. Using a sharp paring knife, trim off any excess skin at the edges and cut about 1/2-inch deep into the flesh on either side of the thigh bone. (This will help the meat cook more quickly.) Sprinkle the thighs with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and arrange them skin side down in one layer in a nonstick skillet with a tight-fitting lid.

2. Place skillet over high heat and when thighs start sizzling reduce heat to medium, cover tightly and cook for 16 to 18 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure the chicken is browning properly. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 150 degrees. If chicken seems to be cooking too fast after 10 minutes or so, reduce heat to low. The skin of the chicken should be very crisp and brown. Transfer the chicken, skin side up, to an ovenproof platter and place in oven.

3. Discard all but 2 tablespoons fat from the skillet in which you cooked the chicken. Add onion, garlic and mushrooms; sauté over high heat for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on the mushrooms and then add the wine and any liquid that has accumulated around the thighs on the platter. Cook the sauce over high heat for about 1 minute to reduce liquid.

4. To serve, divide the sauce among 4 plates. Place thigh in the middle of mushroom sauce on each plate, spoon some sauce over and sprinkle on chives and serve.

Nutrition information (per serving): 330 calories (46 percent from fat), 17 g fat, 4.1 g saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 31 g carbohydrates, 24 g protein, 470 mg sodium, 2 g fiber

Source: Jacques Pepin, "Jacques Pepin More Fast Food My Way" (Houghton Mifflin)

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 6:38PM
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Alexa already mentioned my favorite and posted the recipe, for Sol's Caramel Chicken, love the stuff. I need to make it again soon.

Tonight I made fried chicken and just used thighs. The dark meat is by far my favorite, so I make everything with thighs, even the recipes that specify breasts.

Donna, your recipe sounds good, I'll try that.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 6:40PM
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Ann T has posted a great recipe for Thai-style chicken thighs here. It's a favourite in our house.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 8:11PM
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If I haven't planned ahead for dinner, I sometimes pick up a package of chicken legs or thighs with bone and skin still on. I pat dry with paper towel, rub with EVOO, sprinkle with sea salt and bake @350 for about an hour. Very flavorful
(grandkids love them). If there are any leftover, I take the skin off before refrigerating as it makes the cold leftovers more appetizing.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 1:57AM
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Always use thighs for flavour. Bbq, grilled, fried, curried.....always better with thighs!
As Teresa says too, those Pepin thighs are so tasty.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 3:16AM
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I just tried this recently and it was amazing! Chicken thighs are the undiscovered meat ♥. So much flavor.

Here is a link that might be useful: yummy chicken thigh recipe

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 9:17AM
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Here's another recipe I found in my "keeper" folder:

From Lyndabunny

Here is another fast & easy one. I served it when some friends came over and it was easy. I have since made it again and have varied the recipe a bit. I added some orange marmalade to the mayo and YUM!

Broiled Ginger Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp orange marmalade
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 Tsp ginger (I used at least 1/2 tsp or more of fresh grated)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, I used a little more)

Flatten chicken to 1/4 inch thickness. Place on broiler pan rack. Broil for 3 minutes on each side. Combine remaining to make sauce. Brush over chicken. broil 3 more minutes on each side.

Ang’s notes: I used four chicken thighs, baked the chicken in the oven until almost done, turned on the broiler, brushed on the sauce (heavy) and broiled for a couple of minutes on both sides.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 10:27AM
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What if chicken thighs become trendy, the next food trend? Ooooooh, noooooooo! Then they'll become pricey and scarce --- oh pooh!

I like to bake thighs in teriyaki sauce, I use Mr. Yoshida's brand but Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki is also good. And I used to use bottled BBQ sauce on chicken thighs, but now I make my own sauce:

Barbecued Chicken #1

6 to 8 pieces of chicken, skin on, bone in

3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 TB soy sauce
2 TB W. sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 t salt
dash pepper
1/4 t garlic powder


1.Season chicken with s&p.

1.combine all sauce ingredients, bring to a simmer for 1 minute.

1.Line a shallow baking pan with foil.
2.Brush sauce all over chicken pieces. Lay skin side down on sheet.
3.Bake at 375 for 30 minutes; remove from oven, turn over and brush sauce all over.
4.Bake another 20-30 minutes.
5.Turn up heat to 425 and bake until skin crisps.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 10:42AM
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I use legs and thighs in this simple dish.

Pollo Alla Marengo

Adjusted : from The Art of Eating Well, Pellegrino Artusi 1820 - 1911, Italy's Most Treasured Cookbook, Translated by Kyle M. Phillips III.

On the eve of the battle of Marengo, Napoleon's cook was unable to find the chuck wagons in the confusion and was forced to improvise, using stolen hens. The dish became known as chicken marengo, and tis said that Napoleon always enjoyed it, less for iteself than because it reminded him of a glorious victory.

Chop a young chicken into pieces at the joints. Saute it with 2 tablespoons butter and 1 of oil, season it with salt and pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Once the pieces are browned on all sides, drain off the fat, dust the meat with flour, add a minced clove or two of garlic, and add 1/2 cup of dry white wine. Add about 1/2 cup of broth over the chicken to keep it from drying out, cover it, and simmer it until done. Before serving it, sprinkle it with minced parsley and squeeze half a lemon over it.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 12:01PM
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Chicken Paprikash is a favorite for me and rather easy to make on a weeknight.

Makes 6 servings Hungarian Chicken Paprikash

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

•4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
•1 medium onion, finely chopped
•1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken, cut up
•1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
•1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped or 1 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes un-drained
•1 clove garlic, finely chopped
•1 tablespoon sweet or hot Hungarian paprika
•Salt and black pepper
•3/4 cup water
•1 cup sour cream
•2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


1.Heat butter in a Dutch oven or large skillet with a lid. Add onion and saute over low heat until translucent.

2.Add chicken pieces and brown lightly on both sides. Add green peppers, tomatoes, garlic and paprika. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 35 minutes or until chicken is tender (about 20 minutes if using only chicken breasts).

3.Remove chicken to a heated platter and keep warm. In a small bowl, mix sour cream with flour. Temper mixture with some of the pan juices. Return tempered sour cream mixture to pan and simmer until juices are thickened. Return chicken to pan to rewarm.

4. Serve with boiled rice, German spaetzle or egg noodles.

For a lower fat version, use canola oil instead of butter, lowfat sour cream and 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, or a combination. If using breasts only, reduce the simmering time to 20 minutes.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 2:18PM
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Ditto on the Jacques Pepin chicken thigh recipe above, but you can simplify it and omit the sauce. I'll often make this recipe when I don't have anything thawed out to cook; I'll stop on the way home from work and get a 5 pound value pack of chicken thighs. About 30 seconds per thigh to prep, about 20 minutes or so to cook the whole batch, and you've got tasty 'fried' chicken with far less fat than you'd get from battered fast food fried chicken.

This is more a technique than a recipe. From a food-science-geek standpoint, what you’re doing is rendering the fat out of the skin, and the skin side of the thigh fries in that fat, while the flesh side is steamed in the covered skillet by the vapors liberated in the cooking process. You can vary the seasoning if you want; a little bit of smoked Spanish paprika (‘pimenton’) or chipotle powder works well instead of or in addition to the black pepper. If you are trying to limit salt, Penzeys has a salt free spice mix called ‘Arizona Dreaming’ that works very well on this. Their 'Sunny Paris' (herby/shallots) and 'Sunny Spain' (salt free lemon pepper) mixes all work well, too--both salt free.

If you have to cook often for a lot of people, you might be interested to know that the large 14" teflon skillet from Sam's club (see the link) will hold a 5 pound value pack of chicken thighs--in my area, that's usually available for around $6. You just need to find a lid that'll fit the skillet to be able to make this recipe. 5 pounds of chicken thighs cooked in about 20 minutes--pretty quick and easy. And you can vary the seasonings to your taste. The cooked thighs stay good in the fridge for a few days, and they're great to snack on cold.

4 chicken thighs, skin on
black pepper

1. Set the chicken thighs skin-side down on a cutting board. Cut a ½ inch deep slash on each side of the thigh bone, parallel to the bone and about ½ inch away from the bone (this helps the thigh to flatten out somewhat). Season the thighs on the flesh side with salt and pepper and/or whatever seasoning mix you like.

2. Place the chicken thighs skin-side down on an unheated non-stick skillet. Only then turn the heat to high. When the chicken starts to sizzle, turn heat to medium and move the thighs around to make sure they aren't sticking to the skillet. Cover the skillet and cook for 16 to 18 minutes. Check the chicken occasionally to make sure it isn’t sticking. If the skin is browning too much after 10 minutes, then turn the heat to low. If after 18 minutes the flesh side doesn’t look quite done, flip the thighs and fry them flesh side down for a minute or two, uncovered. When done, serve.

Here is a link that might be useful: 14 inch fry pan

This post was edited by arley on Thu, Jan 23, 14 at 9:43

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 9:23AM
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Ever since I got Lorna Sass's last pressure cooking cookbook, this recipe has been a regular in our house. This isn't specifically for chicken thighs, but it is quite tasty if you do use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the meat choice.

Curry in a Hurry

This recipe from Lorna Sass’s Pressure Perfect is a quick and easy way to make a pretty tasty curry. You can make it with chicken, beef, lamb or pork, and vary the hotness by using mild or hot curry paste. 2 tablespoons of mild curry paste makes a pleasant-but-wimpy curry; 4 tablespoons of mild paste makes it pleasantly zingy; 4 tablespoons of hot curry paste makes it very hot, near my limit of tolerance (and I really like hot food). I generally use 2 tablespoons of hot and 2 tablespoons of mild curry paste. If you don’t want to mess with the yogurt, peas and cilantro, don’t bother--the dish will still be very tasty, but the sauce won’t be as rich or velvety-smooth. ( I personally don’t like cilantro, so I don’t use it.) The recipe calls for 3 pounds of bone-in chicken; I find it easier to use about 2 or 2.5 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs. --Once you get the pressure cooker up to pressure, make a pot of rice. By the time the rice is done, so is this.

1 cup water
4 tablespoons Patak’s Mild Curry Paste
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 pounds bone-in skinless chicken thighs or breasts, or 2-2.5 lbs boneless skinless thighs, or 2 lbs. other meat
(see chart below)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 ½ cup frozen peas
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (optional)

Pour the water into a 4-qt or larger pressure cooker and blend in the curry paste. Place on high heat and add the onion and meat of your choice.
Lock the lid in place. Over high heat bring up to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for the time indicated in the chart. Turn off the heat. Allow the pressure to come down naturally. (If cooking chicken, release any remaining pressure after 4 minutes.) Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape. If the chicken or meat isn’t tender, cover again and simmer until done.
If necessary, skim off the fat that rises to the surface or degrease the broth in a fat separator. Blend the yogurt into 1 cup of the broth. Stir the peas into the curry and simmer until they are defrosted, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and stir the yogurt mixture into the curry. Stir in the cilantro and salt to taste. Serve in bowls over rice.

Meat choices Cooking times

Chicken (see notes above) 8 minutes high pressure, 4 minutes of natural release, then quick release

Beef (boneless chuck, 1” cubes) 8 minutes high pressure, then natural release

Pork shoulder (1” cubes) 8 minutes high pressure, then natural release

Lamb (boneless, 1” cubes) 12 minutes high pressure, then natural release

If using beef, pork or lamb, trim off excess fat and cut the meat into approximately 1” cubes before cooking..

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 9:51AM
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