Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Garlic Shame

I recently asked a fellow foodie for ideas on how to spruce up chicken thighs.  I typically just smother them with barbecue sauce and throw them on the grill.  But when it's dark, raining, and 40 degrees outside, there's no way I'm firing up the old Smokey Joe.  I also don't want to wait until Spring to cook the Costco-sized package of thighs that is lurking in my freezer.  Chicken thighs, however, just stump me.  I never know how to make them, which begs the question of why I buy them, but this is a cooking blog not psychoanalysis.  In any event, this guy shoots me about 3 recipes in 30 seconds flat like he's a contestant on Iron Chef or something.   Lightly breaded with rosemary and garlic, sauteed with mushrooms, garlic, and tomatoes, and the one that really got my attention:  lemon juice, garlic, and  olive oil.  And then the words that made my mouth water:  make sure you use lots of garlic.  That was it.  Nothing but lemon juice, olive oil, and lots of garlic; lots and lots of garlic.  Perfect and frightfully simple for a working mom desperate to save some chicken thighs from freezer burn, and with all that garlic, destined to pack a flavor punch.

Except for one thing.  I didn't have any garlic.  For God's sake, I'm ITALIAN.  I NEVER run out of garlic.  My people weren't known as "garlic eaters" for nothing.  How was this possible?  I have 8 different kinds of pasta in my pantry, olives, anchovies, capers, and cans of tomatoes that would rival a food pantry for the homeless, but no garlic.  I felt my poor dead Italian grandmother spin in her grave.  This was bad.  No garlic in the house, except (shudder) for some garlic powder.  I felt like a fallen foodie.   I wound up making the thighs with bread crumbs, Parmesan, and rosemary.  They were actually really good, and I'm sharing the recipe here, but I'm haunted by chicken thighs with lemon juice and garlic.  As soon as I get some garlic, I'll let you know how they turn out.

Parmesan Breaded Chicken Thighs

1.   Remove the skin from 8 chicken thighs.  Chicken thighs are fatty enough.  Dredge in thigh in a little olive oil and set aside.

2.   Finely chop about 4 pieces of old bread in a food processor.  OK, you got me--pull out the store bought canister of prepared bread crumbs.  They work just as well.

3.  Add 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese--the stuff in the green jar is  fine.   Save the good stuff for salads, risotto, or pasta.

4.  Add 2 Tbsp dried parsley.  Mix the dried ingredients together thoroughly.

5.  Coat each thigh with the bread crumb mixture and put in a roasting pan.   Bake for 1 hours at 350 degrees.


  1. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I'm looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!
    Alligator Stamp Stockbook in Green by Lighthouse 64 White Page Stockbook

  2. Hi, it's me, Michael J. Tucker. I was inspired by your post to dig up (well, OK, I didn't have to dig far) the recipe I use for chicken thighs. I have had it on an index card (you may have to explain some of your readers) since I went away to school and faced the prospect of cooking for myself. I won't mention when that was (and neither will you). At the time I was looking through my mother's cookbooks (that's what we used back then) with her encouragement, following at least some of her suggestions of which recipes to write down. This hearkens back to a bygone era of frugality when, instead of breaking out a fesh batch on index cards to write down the relevant recipes, my mother busted out a stack of slightly used index cards from an abandoned project to catalog all her LPs (no, I'm not explaining that one). Hence all of the cards had the names of classical composers neatly written in her perfect cursive across the top. And that, dear readers, is why in my house this recipe is called "Strauss, Johann--his chicken in lime." It's really from Marian Burros, whose work I believe still has currency today. Here goes.

    6 chicken thighs or 3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (I don't think I have ever made this recipe with anything but thighs.)
    drop of oil (Michael Tucker version: a few TBSP of olive oil)
    1 med. onion, chopped
    i clove garlic, minced (Michael Tucker version: come on, at least 3 cloves)
    1/8 tsp hot red pepper flakes (more if south of Mason-Dixon line)
    1/2 tsp ground cumin
    1/2 tsp crushed coriander seeds or ground coriander
    2 TBSP soy sauce
    2 limes (more if there's a lime tree in your yard and it's February)

    Oil in skillet. Add the chicken pieces and cooker over medium heat until both sides are brown. While chicken is browning, cut onion and mince garlic. Add to chicken. When chicken has browned, add red pepper flakes,
    cumin, coriander, and soy sauce. Reduce heat. Cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Cut one of the limes into quarters. Just before serving, sprinkle the chicken with the juice of one lime. Serve with lime quarters.

    1. Strauss, Johan Chicken in Lime--ah, who doesn't aspire to have one's recipes paired with famous classical composers? What have you got under Beethoven?

  3. Thighs are great in the crockpot too. Half a cup of white wine, 3 or 4 garlic cloves, a bouquet garni of thyme, sage, and rosemary, potatoes, carrots, and some celery (all very roughly cut), and in 3 about 3 hours on low you have a very tasty meal complete with great drippings if you want to make some gravy!

    Scott Dack