Friday, November 21, 2008
Cheap & Easy: Slow-Baked Shoyu Chicken Thighs
If you're looking for a inexpensive, fool-proof protein to round out your weekday meals, look no further than the lowly chicken thigh. (Do you know why? Chicken thigh.) At my grocery store, bone-in chicken thighs have been on sale nearly every week in recent months and I purchased an entire tray (10-12 small thighs) for around five dollars. And though thighs are sort of the red-headed-stepchild of the chicken carcass, they have it got all over breasts when it comes to flavor and moisture. Even a Picky Pete who normally shuns the flesh of the poultry thigh won't know the difference once it is slow-roasted in a tasty shoyu sauce.
This recipe for shoyu (Japanese/Hawaiian word for soy sauce) is a variation on the kind my Hawaiian family members have been making for years. And it meets all requirements of the BeanPlate Trifecta: cheap, tasty, simple. The shoyu sauce is mostly made up of just three ingredients in equal proportions:
Brown sugar, soy sauce, sherry. (If these ingredients were dwarves, they'd be Sweet, Salty, and Boozy.) (And remember how I promised another use for that sherry I pressured you to buy for the chicken pot pie? I am making good on that promise, people. Bust out the sherry.) The equal proportions make this recipe incredibly easy to remember and, depending on how much chicken you're making, effortless to halve and double.
I like to add a tablespoon or two of fresh-grated ginger. Fresh ginger root is one of those big-flavor items that also happens to be cheap, cheap, cheap; a good-sized hunk will only set you back fifty cents and it keeps (tightly wrapped) in the freezer. Crush a couple cloves of garlic, too, and...
...stir the sugar, soy, sherry, ginger, and garlic together. The sauce, she is done.
After removing the skin from the thighs (too graphic!)...
...place them on a broiler pan in two neat little rows.
Brush each with an ample amount of sauce and pop in a 325 degree oven. Bake for one hour and fifteen minutes but--here is the crucial step to keep them from drying out--every fifteen minutes or so, flip each piece over and add more sauce. Flip, flip, baste, baste, close the oven. Steam some rice and make a salad (or read blogs and watch illegal Top Chef clips on YouTube) between flips.
During the final fifteen minutes, you can sprinkle the tops with a few teaspoons of sesame seeds. After removing the chicken from the oven, you can pour off the extra sauce and pan drippings into a wee saucepan with the leftover marinade and quickly bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour a little of this sauce on each piece of chicken and sprinkle with chopped green onion before serving.
The sauce will be caramelized and gorgeous and really tasty with a pile of sticky steamed rice.
And just check out these tender thighs, huh? Not bad for five bucks.
(Click here for printable recipe.)
Shoyu Chicken from BeanPlate
serves 6, 2 thighs apiece
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sherry
1/2 cup soy sauce
1-2 T. fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
10-12 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
green onion (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine brown sugar, sherry, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in small bowl. Arrange chicken thighs on a broiler pan and lightly baste with sauce. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, flipping and basting the chicken every fifteen minutes. (If desired, sprinkle thighs with a few teaspoons of sesame seeds during final fifteen minutes of cooking time.) After removing chicken from oven, combine pan juices with remaining marinade in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Garnish chicken with sliced green onions and serve with steamed rice and warm shoyu sauce.