Chicken thighs are so forgiving. Overcook them and they remain loyally succulent. Even reheated, they deliver on the promise of juiciness and flavor. That’s why they are great to turn to when you don’t have the patience for worrying over exacting instructions at the stove.
Pair the thighs with a you-can’t-mess-it-up sauce and you’ve got a winning combination for a quick dinner on a harried evening.
This one-pan recipe does just that. The chicken thighs are seasoned and browned on both sides in a skillet. Then, they are removed and set aside, so the chicken drippings can form the tasty base for a honey–citrus sauce made with fresh orange juice and thinly sliced onion and lemons, along with a healthy dose of honey and a pinch of dried oregano.
Once the sauce has simmered a bit, thickening enough to coat the chicken pieces, the thighs are returned to the pan and turned a few times. Add a crispy salad or a side of al dente vegetables, such as green beans or asparagus, and, voila, you’ve got dinner.
The thighs—once considered second-class to the breast—have become extremely popular in recent years. Perhaps that is because they are so versatile, tasting great whether stewed, sautéed, grilled or fried.
Some think the thighs are too fatty, but it is that extra bit of fat that gives the pieces more flavor and moisture. Each part of the chicken is a good source of lean protein if it is cooked without the skin. The skinless boneless breast, for example, has about 165 calories and 1 gram of saturated fat per 3 1/2 ounces of meat, while the thigh has 209 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat, according to the National Chicken Council.
Like the breast, you can buy thighs bone-in or boneless, skin-on or skinless. If you’ve got white-meat-only eaters, the boneless, skinless thigh is a good way to introduce the darker meat. The flesh is lighter than the drumstick, and, if cooked in a flavorful sauce such as this one, it just might pass muster.
I prefer the thigh because, along with more flavor, it is usually less expensive than the breast. And I like the size of the pieces. The chicken breasts are so big these days that I often cut them in half when cooking or serving.
Even if you’re tired of chicken, you might still like this citrusy sauce on other proteins. I’ve enjoyed it with quick-broiled shrimp and pan-fried pork chops.
The sauce is easy to spike with a little crushed red pepper for heat. Or try adding a minced garlic clove or two. If you don’t like the texture of lemon slices—the pith can be a little bitter—juice a couple of lemons and add that, with a bit of lemon zest for good measure.