Simple Salt & Pepper Cast Iron Chicken Thighs
This is a back to basics recipe – I love making this chicken and adding some touches before baking like lemon slices or garlic although I usually end up eating it as is, paired with a big pile of veggies for a healthy “reset” dinner. And is so easy to make. I recently had a friend reach out for a super simple and comprehensive recipe that she could make for a dinner party. Simple to cook, but one that would still impress her guests. I recommended this salt and pepper chicken. (She had previously been pleased with my suggestion for a simple appetizer - a white bean rosemary dip. It had been a big hit.)
I’m a big fan of cooking with chicken thighs; I much prefer them over chicken breasts in just about every recipe. Chicken thighs are not only a cheaper cut, they stay much more tender when they are cooked. Plus when you buy them bone-in and skin-on, as these recipes calls for, you end up with crispy golden-brown chicken skin. Instead of adding various other flavors and seasonings, this recipe aims to bring out the flavor of the chicken.
Tip: save the chicken fat from the pan (schmaltz) to use in place of olive oil for roasting vegetables. This no-waste alternative is like liquid gold, as it adds so much flavor to anything it’s cooked with.
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Kosher salt, as needed
Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Heat oven to 400ºF.
Generously season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add the chicken thighs skin-side down to the cast iron, being careful not to overcrowd the pan (you may have to work in batches).
Cook the chicken, untouched, until the fat renders and the skin is golden-brown, about 6 minutes. When adequately browned the skin should easily lift off the pan. Flip the chicken and cook for an additional 4 minutes.
Remove the excess fat from the pan into a heatproof bowl then move the cast-iron skillet with the chicken (add all chicken to the pan if you worked in batches) to the oven. Bake until cooked through completely, about 20 minutes.