Quarantine Cuisine: Greek Chicken Thighs
Updated: Apr 17, 2020
If you are like me, thirty-plus days of quarantine has begun to spark days of pronounced lethargy and depression––days where you stare out the window for minutes on end for no reason, or spend a couple of hours exploring various ways of trying to make your wine key look like a bird.
It hasn't helped that we seem to have returned to December temperatures for the week, eliminating the ability to get outside for a daily walk with Maks or continue my work in the yard on my upcoming vegetable garden.
Cooking from home can be pretty labor-intensive, and during stretches of helpless ennui, even chopping an onion can become a bit of a chore. On those days, some easy-peasy comforting recipes can be the best option to keep yourself nourished.
For me, these recipes often come from my handy-dandy slow cooker. I admit that Mr. Slow Cooker has been collecting dust in the attic stairwell for a while these days, since the invasion of the fancy new instant pot (like Buzz Lightyear supplanting Sheriff Woody), but my slow cooker was my dearest friend back in grad school. There was a stretch of time where I would make slow cooker meals several nights of the week––put all the ingredients in the cooker in the morning, go to class, come home to an apartment with the comforting aroma of the forthcoming dinner in the air. During that time, I collected a host of recipes for slow cooker in my bookmarks tab, and decided to dust off one of my favorites (as well as the slow cooker) when feeling lazy early this week.
Crowd Cow delivered to us a wide spectrum of proteins, including some gorgeous free-range chicken thighs from a sustainable farm in Georgia. This recipe for slow cooker Greek chicken thighs happens to be one of my favorites, and fit neatly with a list of ingredients we had sitting around that needed to be used. Remember, kids, to limit food waste as much as possible, especially in times when we should avoid going to the store, and may be facing food shortages soon (yikes)! A half of a red onion that's been in the fridge for a few days and is looking a little sad is perfectly fine for a juicy slow cooker recipe, and it's possible to slice the little wrinkly spot off your otherwise still-good-looking Roma tomato.
After a nice breakfast of egg burritos and Longjing tea, I went right into slicing up a tomato and red onion, squeezing the juice of a lemon, and adding a few cloves of minced garlic to a cup of chicken broth in the bottom of the slow cooker, and salting-and-peppering liberally. After that, I added a healthy amount of dill, a classic for Greek and middle Eastern fare.
After stirring together these ingredients, I topped with a bed of trimmed green beans.
Finally, I added the chicken thighs atop, skin-side up, and drizzled with olive oil, followed by a healthy seasoning of salt and pepper. I prefer bone-in, skin-on thighs, which have a rich flavor, slow-cook very nicely, and, most important, have a layer of gorgeous chicken skin, loaded with healthy fats, which we will crisp up in the broiler later.
Set the slow cooker on low for eight hours, and cover; if you didn't start until later in the day, you can set for four hours at high temp. That's just about all; you are now free to return to staring blankly at walls and making animals out of household objects.
A few minutes before the eight hours expires, turn on your broiler, setting the rack so the chicken can be about six inches from the heating element. When the slow cooker is ready, extract the chicken thighs with tongs and set on a baking sheet, skin-side up, and place them under the broiler for a couple of minutes, until the chicken skin is a beautiful, crispy brown.
Scoop out the veg and serve, draining off most of the fluid, and placing a thigh on top of the beans. Should you like, you can add a nice Greek-inspired starch to the side; perhaps lemon mashed potatoes with oregano, or a lovely lemon-feta orzo pasta. I chose the potato route, adding butter, a bit of cream, lemon juice, feta cheese, and fresh chopped oregano to the potatoes. Deeeelish.
The slow cooker produces tender, flaky chicken with richly-flavored vegetables, and the crispy skin from the broiler is a special treat; meanwhile, the dish is about as healthy as you can get, and chicken thighs are an inexpensive protein. Cheap, easy, healthy, and delicious––just what we need during oppressively long quarantine days.
Wine to cook by: Imagery Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma County. Imagery is the "artisan" brand of Benzinger, a big-name California wine house, and their wines are available all over the place. Sauv blanc is an excellent wine to pair with Greek flavors, with fresh, bright acidity, minerality, and even grassy-ness. This one had a nice body to it as well, which paired nicely with the more robust elements of the dish's flavor, such as the chicken skin.
Up next: a shade of nostalgia for times when we could visit restaurants with a review of The Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis from late February, the second installment of the Quarantini series, and some pit-barrel barbecue.