Skillet Chicken Thighs with Lemon, Broccoli & Orzo

My husband and I enjoyed this skillet dinner. The kids had mixed reviews! My son thought that it was over-seasoned and my daughter declared that she wouldn’t eat bone-in chicken thighs. (We are quite used to boneless, skinless chicken thighs in my house.) It’s clearly hard to please the two teenagers in my house. 😉

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Aaron Hutcherson. I modified the method and proportions, incorporated red onion, used a Meyer lemon, and substituted chicken stock for broth.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), patted dry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Meyer lemon or 1/2 large lemon, thinly sliced and seeds removed
  • 1/2 large red onion, cut into wedges
  • approximately 1 pound broccoli florets, cut into smaller pieces if large (about 6+ cups)
  • 8 ounces dried orzo (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • freshly grated Parmesan, for serving, optional
  1. Season chicken thighs on both sides with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  2. In a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron or stainless steel), heat olive oil over medium-high. (I used a large, shallow, enameled cast iron pot.)
  3. Cook the chicken, skin-side down, until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Flip and cook until golden on the other side, about 5 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and add butter and lemon slices; cook until the lemons release their juices and start to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the chicken.
  5. Return the pan to medium heat. Add the red onion wedges and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add the broccoli, orzo, thyme, garlic and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to the onions in the pan and stir to coat.
  7. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is lightly toasted and the broccoli is bright green, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Deglaze with the wine and cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes.
  9. Add the stock and lemon slices to the skillet, then add the chicken thighs, skin-side up, along with any liquid from the plate.
  10. Cover the skillet and continue cooking until the orzo is tender, most of the liquid is absorbed, and the chicken is cooked through (165 degrees F internal temperature), 13 to 15 minutes.
  11. Serve warm garnished with grated Parmesan, if desired.

Note: If you want to add a little texture and crunch to the dish, uncover and continue to cook until browned and crisp on the bottom, 3 to 5 additional minutes (after Step 10).

Chicken-Spinach Burgers with Feta & Tzatziki

These Greek-inspired chicken burgers were juicy and flavor-packed. They were relatively healthy too! We ate them on Memorial Day with corn and potato salad on the side. Delicious.

This recipe was loosely adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sue Li. I used freshly ground chicken thighs, added feta, and modified the proportions and method. The original recipe notes that in order to keep the burgers moist, it is important that the meat isn’t packed too tightly. I think that the exorbitant amount of spinach also kept the burgers moist.

Yield: 7 to 8 burgers

For the Burgers:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken (can substitute ground turkey)
  • 4 cups baby spinach, long and/or thick stems removed, chiffonade
  • 4 large or 6 small scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped, finely grated, or pushed through a garlic press
  • 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled (about 5-6 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 T panko breadcrumbs
  • vegetable oil and/or cooking oil spray, for grill
  • 8 potato rolls, split, lightly toasted (if desired), for serving
  • sliced red onion, tomato, and/or avocado, for topping, as desired
  • tzatziki sauce, for topping (see below)

For the Tzatziki:

  • 1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • dash cumin
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1/4 cup grated English cucumber, squeezed dry (I used the small holes of a box grater)
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used the juice of half of a Meyer lemon)
  • fresh dill or parsley, minced, to taste

To Make the Burger Patties:

  1. Using a meat grinder fitted with the medium disc, grind 1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. (Alternatively use 1 1/2 pounds of pre-ground chicken or turkey.) Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cut spinach, scallions, garlic, crumbled feta, cumin, salt, pepper, egg and panko. Using a fork, mix to combine.
  3. Add the ground meat; mix gently with a fork until just combined.
  4. Form into 7 to 8 patties, about 1/2-inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the sauce.

To Make the Tzatziki:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients with a large pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Refrigerate so that the flavors can develop while the burgers are cooked.
  3. Taste and adjust the seasoning, as desired. Additional lemon juice can also be added.

To Finish & Serve:

  1. Coat the grill grates with vegetable oil and preheat on medium to medium-high heat.
  2. Remove the meat from the refrigerator to bring the burger patties to room temperature. To prevent sticking, coat the burgers with vegetable oil or vegetable oil spray.
  3. Cook the burgers until lightly browned on both sides and until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, about 5 minutes per side.
  4. Serve the patties on rolls topped with tzatziki and sliced red onions, tomatoes, and/or avocado, as desired.

Note: Burger patties can be formed 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Cauliflower & Cilantro-Yogurt Sauce

This is another quick and easy weeknight dinner. I love sheet pan meals! The yogurt sauce was absolutely essential- we all gobbled it up dolloped over both the cauliflower and the chicken. The spice blend, especially the smoked paprika, gave the chicken a great depth of flavor. Nice.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yossy Arefi. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs and modified the proportions as well as the marinating and cooking times. I served it with roasted potatoes (made simultaneously in the same oven) and crusty sourdough bread.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Roasted Chicken Thighs & Cauliflower:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds) or 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 small head cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 2-inch florets (about 5 cups)
  • 3 shallots, quartered lengthwise (about 1 heaping cup)

For the Herbed Yogurt Sauce:

  • 10 oz (about 1 1/4 cups) Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or mint
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more for serving (I used Meyer lemon juice)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated (I used a garlic press)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the coriander, paprika, Aleppo pepper, and red pepper flakes with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and a big pinch of salt and pepper.
  2. Pat the chicken dry and trim excess fat.
  3. Add the chicken to the bowl and toss to coat in the oil and spices. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. (I marinated the chicken for 2 hours.)
  4. Heat oven to 425 degrees and set a rack in the center. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  5. Arrange the chicken, “skin-side up”, on a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  6. Add the cauliflower, shallots, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to the bowl with the residual marinade. Toss to coat, then arrange the vegetables in a single layer surrounding the chicken.
  7. Bake until the chicken is deep golden brown and cooked through and the cauliflower is browned, tossing the vegetables once or twice, about 20 to 25 minutes for boneless and up to 40 minutes for bone-in. The internal temperature should read 165 degrees on instant read thermometer. (If the chicken is done before the cauliflower, transfer the thighs to a plate, cover, and continue cooking the cauliflower until golden brown.)
  8. While the chicken bakes, prepare the yogurt sauce: Whisk the yogurt, parsley or mint, cilantro, lemon juice and grated garlic with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cover and refrigerate until serving. (I made the sauce after making the chicken marinade and let it sit in the refrigerator during the marinating time as well.)
  9. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a platter and top with any juices left on the sheet pan and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  10. Serve with yogurt sauce on the side, sprinkled with fresh cilantro, if desired.

Sheet-Pan Chicken Meatballs with Charred Broccoli

Baked Chicken & Spinach Meatballs

Everyone loves meatballs- right? These were a healthyish version packed with cilantro and spinach. We ate them over rice topped with dollops of garlicky Greek yogurt sauce with roasted cauliflower on the side. Yum.

My husband was gifted a meat grinder for Christmas. 🙂 This was the first time he used it, grinding chicken thighs for these full-flavored meatballs. He plans to make burgers with blended meats next. Fancy!

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. I prepared the seasoned meat about 6 hours ahead of time but it can even sit overnight in the refrigerator so that the meat absorbs the seasoning. I baked the meatballs (in the same oven as the roasted cauliflower) and used red pepper flakes instead of a serrano chile. I also added a yogurt sauce for serving. Fantastic.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 pound spinach, washed
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken (I used 5 freshly ground chicken thighs- medium grind)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (I used the zest from 1/2 lemon)
  • pinch of ground cayenne
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds (I crushed them using a mortar and pestle)
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish
  • 1 serrano chile, with seeds, finely chopped or 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup soft fresh bread crumbs, from about 4 slices of crustless sandwich bread (I used 3 slices of Trader Joe’s Tuscan Pane, crusts removed, pulsed in a food processor)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, half-and-half, milk, or ricotta cheese
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for the baking sheet
  • lemon wedges, for serving
  • cooked rice, for serving (I served the meatballs over white Basmati rice)
  • yogurt sauce (or store-bought tzatziki), for serving (see below)

For the Sauce:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated or pressed through a garlic press
  • fresh dill, cilantro or parsley, finely minced, to taste
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Blanch the spinach: Plunge leaves a handful at a time into a pot of boiling water. Leave just long enough to wilt, about 30 seconds, scoop out with a spider or slotted spoon and drain in a colander and cool under running water. Repeat until all of the spinach is wilted.
  2. Remove and squeeze wilted leaves into a ball. I used a potato ricer and squeezed out the excess liquid in batches.
  3. Using a large knife, roughly chop spinach on a cutting board — you should have about 2 cups.
  4. Squeeze into a ball again to remove excess water. (This may be done several hours or up to a day in advance and refrigerated.) Again, I used a potato ricer and removed the excess liquid in batches.
  5. If freshly grinding the chicken, grind into a large bowl using the medium grinding disc.
  6. Combine the ground chicken, salt, pepper, lemon zest, cayenne, nutmeg, fennel seeds, cinnamon, spinach, cilantro, chile (or red pepper flakes), egg, bread crumbs and cream in a large bowl. Using your clean hands, knead everything together, mixing well. Leave to absorb seasoning for 15 minutes or overnight. (I refrigerated it for about 6 hours.)
  7. Make the sauce: Combine all of the ingredients and refrigerate for flavors to develop.
  8. Test for seasoning: Take a small amount and flatten into a thin patty. Quickly cook in a small skillet, about 1 minute per side. Taste, then adjust the mixture’s seasoning if necessary.
  9. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  10. Using a large ice cream scoop or spoon, form 19 to 24 rough balls and place on a large plate. (The mixture will be soft.)
  11. Using a brush, coat a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.
  12. Lightly form the meatballs and position them on the prepared baking sheet. Along the long side of the pan, I placed them in rows of 5. (I had 19 meatballs.)
  13. Bake meatballs until well browned underneath, about 15 minutes. Using a stiff metal spatula, pry up and turn over meatballs (they may want to stick a bit). Bake until browned on second side and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each one registers at least 160°, about 4 to 5 minutes more.
  14. Serve over rice garnished with chopped cilantro, if desired. Serve with sauce (or tzatziki) and lemon wedges.

Duck Tacos with Refried Black Beans

I usually think of duck meat as being too fatty to agree with me. 😉 After seeing Sara Moulton make these tacos, she convinced me to give it another chance. In this dish, the fatty skin is removed and the shredded duck meat was very moist and flavorful.

I often see the vacuum-sealed, cooked rotisserie duck at Costco. On my last visit, when most the fresh poultry was out of stock and the rotisserie chicken was limited to one per visit, there was plenty of rotisserie duck available. 🙂 These tacos could also be made with rotisserie chicken, of course, but this was a nice change. My son thought that they were “next-level.”

This recipe was adapted from Sara’s Weeknight Meals, via SaraMolton.com. I doubled the original recipe to use the entire rotisserie duck and added additional toppings. The leftover filling was just as delicious reheated and served with fresh toppings and taco shells. The healthy and quick refried black beans were fabulous too.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Spice Blend:

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

For the Filling & Toppings:

  • 1 half of a cooked rotisserie duck
  • 1 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 3 T water
  • 12 ready-to-eat regular-size taco shells, warmed according to package directions
  • chopped or shredded iceberg lettuce or finely-shredded cabbage, for serving
  • chopped tomatoes (I used chopped grape tomatoes)m for serving
  • shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese or a Mexican cheese blend, to taste, for serving
  • prepared salsa, for serving
  • light sour cream, for serving
  • cilantro, for serving
  • diced avocado, for serving
  • canned diced chilies, for serving
  • hot sauce, for serving (I used Chipotle Cholula)
  • rice, for serving, optional
  • Refried beans, recipe below

To Make the Spice Blend:

  1. Add the ingredients to a bowl and stir well to combine.

To Make the Fillings, Toppings, & To Serve:

  1. Remove the skin from the duck meat. Shred enough meat from one half of a rotisserie cooked duck to yield 2 1/2 cups.
  2. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the shredded duck and spice blend and stir to combine.
  4. Stir in the water and cook, covered, for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Divide the filling among the taco shells.
  6. Top with the lettuce and tomatoes, and sprinkle with cheese.  Top with cilantro, avocado, diced chiles, and hot sauce, as desired. Spoon on the salsa and sour cream, if using.
  7. Serve immediately with refried beans on the side. (The refried beans can be used as an additional taco filling, if desired.)

For the Refried Beans:

  • 2 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (I used 1 large yellow onion when I doubled the recipe)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups thoroughly cooked black beans or one 15.5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or water
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.
  4. Stir in the cumin and chili powder and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the beans and chicken stock, cover, and cook until the beans are very soft and the flavors are well blended, about 5 minutes.
  6. Use a fork or potato masher to coarsely mash the beans.
  7. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Note: Cooked, rotisserie duck can be purchased online @Maple Leaf Farms.com.

Cilantro-Lime Chicken Thighs

This is another Mexican-inspired chicken dish. I coarsely hand-shredded this juicy chicken to serve as a taco filling with loads of toppings. It would also be wonderful in a burrito bowl or simply on it’s own with street corn, refried beans and rice. Yum.

The recipe was adapted from DamnDelicious.com. I marinated the chicken for 6 hours and it was very flavorful. I broiled the chicken instead of pan frying it as well. It would also be perfect grilled.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lime juice, plus wedges for serving
  • 1 T lime zest
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 4 large thighs)
  • cooked rice and refried beans, for serving, as desired
  • guacamole or avocado slices, for serving, as desired
  • corn, red onion, shredded cheese, tomatoes, and salsa, for serving, as desired
  • hot sauce and sour cream, for serving, as desired
  • flour or corn tortillas for serving as a burrito or tacos, optional
  1. In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
  2. In a gallon size Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine chicken and cilantro mixture; marinate for at least 2 hours to overnight, turning the bag occasionally. (I marinated the chicken for 6 hours.)
  3. Preheat broiler or grill.
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on a rimmed baking sheet, if broiling.
  5. Cook the chicken until golden brown and cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 4-5 minutes per side.
  6. Let rest and cool slightly to coarsely hand-shred (to use as a taco or burrito filling).
  7. Serve with rice and refried beans and assorted toppings, as desired.

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