Of all the weeknight dishes, chicken thighs are my absolute, go-to favorite. I unashamedly love them — the variations are endless so no dish is ever the same. They’re the most affordable cut and far easier to prepare than chicken breasts, which tend to dry out. Thighs are far more forgiving and can be held in the oven on low until you’re ready to eat.

You can roast up extra thighs and they all cook at the same time. Then enjoy the leftovers in soups, stews, salads, pastas. Save the bones to simmer into a stock (throw them into the freezer and then simmer all at once). Plus, there’s no meat carving. This is the kind of meal to eat with your hands.

Plan on at least one good-sized thigh per serving, depending the other ingredients you have in the pan. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends not washing the meat before using.

The roasting technique couldn’t be easier: a hot oven, preheated to 400 degrees. Set the thighs in a roasting pan or on a sheet pan along with any other ingredients — cubed potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips — whatever you have on hand. Then drizzle the chicken with oil or butter, and the thighs practically cook themselves unattended in about 45 minutes until a lovely golden brown.

If you set the uncooked thighs uncovered in the refrigerator overnight, the skin will dry out so that it roasts up extra crisp. The skin keeps the meat moist and succulent, so keep it on while it roasts. Plus, it adds that finger-licking component to this dish.


Beth Dooley is the author of “In Winter’s Kitchen.” Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.