Side Orders: A devilishly good dinner of inexpensive chicken thighs

Side Orders: A devilishly good dinner of inexpensive chicken thighs

August 23rd, 2017 by Anne Braly in Life Entertainment

Chicken thighs are possibly the best bargain in any meat department, and there are at least three reasons why.

They have plenty of juicy, tender meat. They are so easy to debone. They are inexpensive.

If you're a fan of dark meat, I'm not telling you anything new.

I recently came upon a recipe I'd torn from a magazine last year that had ended up at the bottom of a pile of clippings in a basket. There it sat for months, waiting to see the light of day again. Deviled Chicken Thighs — the name itself sounded intriguing, and the ingredients were things I always have on hand: yogurt, Dijon mustard, panko bread crumbs and Hungarian paprika. The last I've had in my refrigerator for years and rarely use, so naturally I was excited to have an excuse to get it out.

Anne Braly

Anne Braly

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

This recipe is exceedingly easy and perfect when you've had a harried day and are looking for something to make that's both satisfying and simple. With school in full swing and the hectic season of carpooling and after-school activities underway, this makes a great dinner in no time.

Just remember to marinate the chicken the night before — or even the morning before you leave for work if you have the time. You'll be glad you did. Add a fruit salad — there's plenty of fresh local summer fruit still available at your favorite farmers markets — and some crusty bread, and dinner's in the bag. They're quite good — a devilishly simple to prepare.

Deviled Chicken Thighs

1 cup nonfat plain yogurt

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, or more to taste

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste

8 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 cups plain panko bread crumbs

Nonstick cooking oil spray

Whisk together the yogurt, mustard, salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper in a large bowl until smooth and well combined. Add the chicken; turn to coat evenly. Cover the bowl, and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.

When ready to cook, position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and a second rack below the broiler. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking oil spray.

Place the bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, remove the chicken from the marinade (it should be well-coated) and place it in the bread crumbs, covering both side completely, patting and moving the crumbs around as needed so the entire piece of chicken is coated. Transfer the chicken to the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pieces of chicken. Discard any remaining crumbs. Lightly spray the top of each chicken piece with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake on the lower oven rack for 25 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 160 degrees; then set the broiler to high and transfer the baking sheet to the higher rack, about 4 inches below the heating element. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes, until the crumbs are nicely browned. Let the chicken rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

ON THE ROAD

I recently traveled to the Pawleys Island, S.C., area for the first time in more than 25 years and was impressed with the fact that little has changed. One thing I love about this part of the coast is its lack of towering condos and beachside bars that, while fun at times, can get a little too raucous when all you want to do is lie in the sun with a good book. Also, there are plenty of homes for rent from local realty companies and online sites like VRBO and Airbnb. And with rental homes come kitchens, allowing you to make your own meals and save some cash.

If you do happen to be in Myrtle Beach, Litchfield or Pawleys — they're all right there together and there's still plenty of beach weather left — the small community of Murrells Inlet has a wonderful seafood market where fresh fish of all types and shellfish, too, can be found.

Murrells Inlet Seafood offers more than that, though. Every day, four soups are on the counter, two of which — clam chowder and crab-tomato-basil soup — have won awards. They are self-serve, so you can fill up a half-pint, full pint or more and take it back to your home-away-from-home for a quick, delicious seafood meal. My mouth still waters for the clam chowder, which had a smoky flavor unlike any other I've ever tried. The store is located at 4886 South Highway 17.

ON YOUR RADAR

The upcoming Wine Over Water on Oct. 7 once again promises to be a sell-out, so get your tickets now if you want to experience a gastronomic afternoon overlooking the Tennessee River at one of the best venues in town, the Walnut Street Bridge. Restaurants participating in this year's event to benefit Cornerstones are:

Restaurants on the Bridge (to date)

* 2 Sons Kitchen

* Beast + Barrel

* Cafe on the Corner

* Chatt Smoke House

* Daily Ration

* Easy Bistro & Bar

* Embargo 62

* Five

* Foodworks

* Mrs. B's Reggae Cafe

* St. John's Meeting Place

* Terra Mae

* The Local Juicery

* Walden Club

Publix markets will provide complimentary samples of charcuterie, and Bluff View Bakery will provide complimentary bread.

Wine Over Water extends before and after the main Saturday event, with wine dinners, food tours, auctions and more activities all around town. For a complete rundown, log onto www.wineoverwater.org. Tickets range in price from $75 to $150.

Contact Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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