Thanks to Sam Sifton for posting the inspiration for this recipe on the NYT Cooking Site. I’ve made it twice and my husband declares – “you have to make chicken thighs this was always!
Sifton’s recipe had butter in the rub; I subbed olive oil, upped the lemon juice, and added the pom molasses. And rather than grill, I changed the cooking method to oven roasting to preserve all those lovely cooking juices for a reduced glaze at the end.
Easy enough to prepare with the spice paste and refrigerate hours ahead of cooking time, and then you’re free until revisiting your dinner for a little over an hour of mostly hands-off cooking time. The beauty of this dish, besides the simplicity of preparation, is that the chicken thighs remain juicy and tender even after an hour of roasting, and also after reheating if you have leftovers.
Smoked Paprika Roasted Chicken Thighs
8 very meaty air-chilled chicken thighs on the bone, totaling 4-5 lbs.
1 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
2 tbsp smoked Spanish paprika
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp honey
juice from 1/2 Meyer lemon, rind cut thickly and reserved
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
4 cloves garlic finely minced
Either early in the day or just before roasting, cut off any excess flaps of skin hanging off the chicken thighs and season them with freshly ground pepper and kosher salt. Combine all the spice paste ingredients (except for pieces of lemon rind) in a large baking dish and then rub the paste all over the chicken pieces, loosening the skin a bit to get some under it. Scatter the lemon rind pieces around the chicken, then cover and refrigerate until ready to roast.
Preheat oven to 400º and place the chicken, skin side down in one layer, in a large cast iron skillet. You can add the lemon rind pieces or discard at this point. Roast for 30 minutes, then turn over with skin side up and roast for another 30 minutes. If skin needs crisping at this point, turn on the broiler for just a couple of minutes to get it the way you like.
Remove chicken pieces to a serving platter. Reduce the pan juices over medium high heat to a piquant, syrupy sauce to brush or pour over.
This makes a hearty dinner for 4-6, depending on the size of your chicken thighs and your guests’ appetites. Leftovers reheat beautifully.
Served with oven-baked crispy fries and salad.