December 27, 2011

Spicy Garlic Chicken with Mushroom Broccoli Rice

I often find myself in a rut. A chicken rut. Baked chicken, sauteed chicken, skillet chicken, chicken with rice, chicken with pasta..... They will hold any spice or preparation you can throw at it. Last night I wanted to do a BBQ chicken dinner to mix it up from my usual preparation with the oven or range. So before leaving the house yesterday I pulled some chicken thighs out of the freezer and watched the sky all day.

It started raining. Now I am stuck with 4 thawed chicken thighs that I am not wild about cooking in the oven. I don't know why, but I have never been a fan of cooking thighs any other way then on a BBQ. Chicken thighs are more oily then breasts and tend to cook heavy when done in the oven Also crisping the skin correctly can also be a daunting task for me. Sometimes it is perfectly crisp and other times it is a chewy mess that I just pull off and set aside. Well, I'll have plenty of time to perfect this over the winter, apparently the only way to buy chicken thighs here is to get the hugegantic 20 pack. Thank goodness for vacuum sealers.

Since it was raining and I couldn't BBQ I had to go with Plan B... oven BBQ. I was fairly certain that I could use the same marinade I had planned on in the oven with a couple tweaks. When BBQing I use about 1/2 cup of butter to keep the chicken from drying out over the flame, but when baking I don't need to worry about that too much so I will be using a mix of 3 tblsp butter and 1/4 olive oil. Other then that I am not going to change anything for the marinade. On to prep!

I gather everything I need for the marinade and I start by mixing all my ingredients in a microwave safe bowl (I would normally be doing this on the range, but as of right now do not have a pot to cook with) and nuke it for about 2 min until the butter is melted. I don't want the mixture to boil or anything, just needs to be in there for enough time to melt the butter. I pull the bowl out of the microwave and spoon over the marinade the chicken (skin up) in the prepared baking dish.

I should be using a roasting rack for this, but I don't have one. Chicken thighs, as I said earlier, are more oily than breasts, so they benefit from a rack to let the fat and oil drip while cooking. Without a rack it is best to use a less fatty marinade, which is another reason that I cut the butter way down for this dish, I don't want my meat soaking up all that fat and cholesterol. If I had a roasting rack I probably would have used the same marinade as I would BBQing, but I have to work with what I got. No matter what this will be a higher calorie dish, but it's the little changes that you can make to create a dish that is at least slightly healthier.

I put the chicken in a 350 degree preheated oven and head to the couch with my Red Hook IPA to watch some football. About 30 min into cooking I pull the chicken out of the oven, flip the thighs and baste. I am only going to baste 3 times - start, middle, end - because thighs do not need aggressive basting. They stay moist as long as they are cooked at a lower temperature with some liquid in the pan.

Back to football for another 30 min, which these days means about 2 plays and lots and lots of commercials, and I'm ready to flip and baste one last time. This is where the skin crisping will (hopefully) happen. I switch from bake to a low broil on my oven and place the chicken back in the oven to finish off. Now, at this point I had a choice to keep the chicken in the pan or remove them and cook them directly on the rack. This time I opted for the pan because, well, because I forgot to put them directly on the rack. The nice thing about taking them out of the pan in this way is for the meat to essentially drain out excess oil. It doesn't hurt the chicken, just make sure you have some tinfoil on a rack underneath to catch any drippings.

Time to eat! I served this tasty dish up with Mushroom Broccoli Rice and a small salad. It was perfection. The skin was crisp and the meat was juicy, but not too oily even though I forgot to put it on the rack at the end. The sauce was tangy and garlicy with a slight kick to it. The rice was a basic side, but perfect for this dish. Really let the chicken shine. All in all, a fairly simple dish requiring little prep that comes out spectacular. Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest.

Spicy Garlic Chicken Marinade

3 tbs butter
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tbs minced garlic
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbs parsley
1 tbs crushed red pepper - optional

1. Mix all ingredients together and heat until butter melts. Ideally on the stove top but can also be melted in the microwave in 2 min.
2. Spoon over chicken and use as a baste periodically.

Mushroom Broccoli Rice

1 cup rice
1 10.5 oz can cream of broccoli
1 1/4 cup chicken broth (or just fill the can back up)
Pepper to taste
Paprika to taste
Garlic Powder to taste

1. Mix all ingredients in a baking pan.
2. Bake at 350 degrees, covered, for about 45 min or until rice is cooked through.

**One last note, if you want to make this with an Asian flare, add about 1-2 tbs honey to the glaze.**


  1. This sound delicious and perfect for the upcoming winter nights. Although I would have gone with a Hefeweizen as I think the wheaty smoothness would have complemented the spices without overshadowing them with hops. But I know how you love your IPA's

  2. Good call on the Hefeweizen. If only I had some in the fridge last night! *shaking fist at the sky* The crispness in the IPA did bring out the heat though and the rice was a nice tempering dish between the two.