Don’t worry about this chicken drying out, it stays moist, tender and full of fabulous Southwest-inspired flavor!
Don’t let them tell you that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”! It just isn’t true!
I’ve always been quite partial to chicken breasts, either bone-in or boneless. And every now and then, I purchase a whole chicken and roast it for a special dinner. But thighs or legs? No, definitely not. In fact, I never even give them a second glance at the market.
Well, that was true until a few months ago. I was creating a recipe for KitchenAid for Indonesian Barbecued Chicken, and just couldn’t get the results I wanted with my usual go-to, boneless chicken breasts. After a couple hours in the slow cooker, the meat didn’t have really great flavor, and the texture was sort of dry and pasty. I loved the sweet and spicy sauce, but just wasn’t happy with the meat, so I decided to give it another go with boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
This version was fantastic! The meat remained tender, juicy and the flavor was great. Hmmmm… Maybe I was wrong. Duh… the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I WAS wrong – most of our favorite restaurants are those with international cuisines, and many of those cuisines primarily use thighs when it comes to chicken. Why I didn’t come up with this revelation earlier is beyond me!
I’ve been experimenting ever since and have gone through lots of Costco-size packages of chicken thighs. I’ve had the best time using the thighs in all kinds of recipes. First, there was the Indonesian-inspired recipe with ginger, lemongrass and soy (if you haven’t tried it, it’s wonderful!), then a delicious Asian version (coming up) and now this flavorful Mexican Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken. I love that you can sauté or sear thighs till they’re a beautiful golden brown, (I love them a bit charred) and the meat doesn’t even begin to dry out. And honestly, to my surprise, the flavor of the thighs is mild and delicious.
I think you’ll love this south of the border version as much as we do. The recipe can be prepared on the grill or the stovetop, making it perfect for year-round enjoyment. The chicken is marinated in a delicious concoction of olive oil, fresh lime juice, honey, brown sugar, cumin, fresh ginger and oregano. If you’re in a hurry, you can marinate it for just 30 minutes with great results, but I’ve also let it sit much longer in the marinade for an even deeper flavor.
This Mexican Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken is wonderful served with rice and fresh salsa, and works well for sandwiches and wraps. It also makes a spectacular salad (more to come on that!).
You’re probably way ahead of me on this “chicken thigh thing” and throw them in your shopping cart quite regularly. But if not, trust me, you’ve been missing out on something wonderful. I’m here to tell you – you can teach an old dog new tricks! It’s true!
- 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (trim off most of the fat)
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil (or any mild flavored oil)
- For the marinade/basting sauce:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoondry oregano
- 3 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Combine all marinade ingredients in a sauce pan and stir well. Transfer 3 tablespoons to a zippered bag and add chicken. Massage bag well to coat all chicken pieces with marinade. Marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.
- Heat remaining marinade over medium heat till mixture comes to a boil. Continue to cook (watch carefully so that mixture does not overflow pan) until syrupy and reduced to one half original volume. This will take 1-2 minutes Set aside to cool.
- If cooking on outside grill, preheat grill to medium high. When hot, add chicken and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for about 12-15 minutes, turning frequently and basting with the reduced sauce until golden, slightly charred in places and internal temperature reaches 160˚.
- To cook inside, heat oil in a large saute pan till almost smoking. Add chicken and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, turning frequently, until golden, slightly charred in places and internal temperature reaches 160˚. Brush frequently with the reduced sauce while cooking. (Don't over-crowd the thighs in the pan or they will simmer instead of sauté. Make in 2 batches if necessary.)
- Tent chicken with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Serves 4-6