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Welcome back to another premium blog post covering the dense subject of chicken!
In this blog post, I will cover what I believe to be the tastiest part of the chicken. Moreover, I will give you different ways to make certain parts of the chicken even more flavorful than you could believe!
Keep reading to learn more!
Why the Thigh is the Tastiest Part of the Chicken
If you want flavor, then you need not look any further than the classic chicken thigh!
I personally prefer to sear them on my cast iron skillet and finish them in my oven for an incredibly juicy and flavorsome result.
But why is the chicken thigh so irresistibly tasty? Let’s dive deeper into this.
Hypothesis 1; Chicken Skin Causes Thighs to Be So Tasty
Assuming you leave the skin on your chicken when pan searing it, you’re going to include with it a whole host of unsaturated fats, which, although not terrible for you, will certainly increase calorie count.
But you can keep the skin on a chicken breast just as well as the thigh. So, the skin isn’t the reason why thighs are so tasty. Let’s continue.
Hypothesis 2; Chicken Thigh is Leaner Because Chickens Use it to Walk
That makes sense, right? Because a chicken spends all its time on its feet, pecking away at the ground, that it’s thighs would develop a leaner, more robust flavor in the process?
Unfortunately, this is not 100% accurate because, although chicken thigh is dark meat and the chicken does use it to walk, it has more fat!
In my research, I’ve found that, without the skin, an equal amount of chicken thigh versus chicken breast in grams will have up to 3 times the amount of fat (plus more calories).
Now were on to something!
Hypothesis 3; Chicken Bones Impart More Flavor
Emphatically this is true!
Bones are hollow. And this hollow cavity is filled with what is known as bone marrow.
Bone marrow is this spongy tissue mostly concentrated in the hip, thigh, and spine of animals and has plenty of vitamins and nutrients your body craves!
The list of nutrients in bone marrow includes:
- B vitamins pantothenic acid
It also has collagen, which supports healthy skin, joints, and hair!
And, when we cook the chicken thigh with the bone in, all this flavor comes out and seeps into the chicken, resulting in a deeper, tastier piece of meat!
Now that’s some science I can get behind.
How to Get the Most Taste Out of Your Chicken?
Since we deduced that dark meat is more flavorful than white meat due to fat content, and that dark meat with bigger bones, which imparts all the healthy, tasty bone marrow flavor into our chicken, is best.
Then, we can use these findings to determine what the best methods to get the most out of our chicken are!
Method 1; Reverse Roasting (My Personal Favorite Non-Frying Method)
Like the title says, this is my favorite non-frying method to cook chicken!
Not only do you get the crispy, tantalizing caramelized crust on the chicken.
But you also get the deep, rich flavors from the bone marrow when you roast it in the oven!
A simple recipe to follow is to sauté your chicken skin side down on a medium-high heat in your cast iron skittle until brown (about 1-2 minutes). Then, when you flip the chicken, baste in garlic butter with a spoon, then pop it into a pre-heated, 375-degree Fahrenheit oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Bake until 165 degrees Fahrenheit internal (Use an accurate, digital quick-read thermometer to ensure it is safe to eat).
Method 2; Simply Pan Sear
Quite simply, this method is to heat up your skillet to a medium-high heat, place your chicken skin side down, and alternate sides as you cook your chicken over your range.
The downside to this method is that it can take some time to bring your food up to temperature, which requires you to sit there and babysit it to make sure you don’t burn one side of it or overcook it.
Also, it won’t come out as good as with Method 1.
However, the upside is you don’t need a cast iron skillet or an oven to do it this way!
Method 3; Slow Roast in the Oven
This method is more of the “Set it and forget it” style of cooking chicken.
Essentially, you set your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and roast your chicken for 15-2 minutes until cooked through to 165 degrees Fahrenheit!
You can also add a whole bunch of veggies to combine their flavors.
Although, you will miss out on the delicious caramelized crust that adds so much depth to chicken.
Method 4; Deep Frying Chicken
Perhaps the unhealthiest method, the deep-frying method infuses tons of flavor, but also adds a whole lot of empty calories to your dish.
Certainly, a classic everyone should try to fry homemade fried chicken at least once. And I certainly recommend the double frying method for that extreme crunch you want when biting into fried chicken.
You essentially par fry the chicken at 350 degrees Fahrenheit in peanut oil, then set it to the side to cool down and redistribute juices.
Then, you fry again at a much higher temperature of 425 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown and crispier than you can even imagine!
Importantly, this also adds a new layer of flavor to our meat that searing and roasting just don’t add. The oil seeping into the chicken makes incredibly more dynamic.
In closing, we’ve learned that dark meat is tastier than white meat because of the higher fat content and the bone marrow released when cooking.
We also learned that cooking dark meat over longer periods of time will yield a better result due to the deeper extraction of that tasty bone marrow.
Lastly, we learned that by adding fry oil into the mix, we can take a trip down high blood-pressure lane and really kick up our flavors!
But can we take it even further?
I think yes
2 Methods to Take Your Chicken Flavors to the Extreme
We’ve addressed the selection process and the cooking process, but if we want to take our chicken to the extreme, we need to do the following:
- Brine/Marinade our chicken
- Sauce our Chicken
By doing these two steps, we can create a product that will blow you away!
Method 1, Part 1; Brining Your Chicken
Chicken Brine is the process of imparting flavors to your chicken while also adding juiciness to your results.
Brines, as opposed to marinades, will add a level of, well, brininess, to your chicken.
A good chicken brine will include salt, acid, sweetness, and umami.
By combining all these elements with water, and soaking your chicken in it overnight, you’ll receive a product that is sure to blow you away.
In a side by side test, you will be able to sort out un-brined versus brined chicken immediately by flavor.
Method 1, Part 2; Marinating Your Chicken
On the other side of the same coin as brined chicken, is marinated chicken.
There is a simple way to remember the difference between a brine and a marinade.
Think of brining chicken as increasing the juiciness and the saline content of your chicken.
Think of marinating your chicken as flavor enhancing as well as tenderizing your chicken.
However, certain marinades have certain properties that you’ll want to know about.
For example, a buttermilk marinade will serve to break down the collagen in chicken before frying it, which will result in a more tender piece of meat.
That is why you will hear people espousing the use of buttermilk in fried chicken recipes. Because it chemically changes the structure of the chicken in a good way!
However, you can also create more sweet marinades, such as those with a tomato base, like a barbecue sauce marinade.
Really, the point here is that you will create a flavor that will dominate your taste buds on the back end of cooking and will likely be the most prescient part of your flavor palate.
Method 2, Part 1; Sauce It.
Nothing caps your well-cooked chicken off better than a mouth-watering sauce does!
And I’m talking about that sauce that really kicks it up a notch. Like something sweet, tangy, and with just the right amount of heat to it!
Or, if you like the classic Buffalo wing sauce, combine a cayenne pepper sauce along with a stick of butter and a good spritz of distilled white vinegar will give you the end results you need.
Just be sure to toss your wings while they’re still hot so they absorb your coating.
Method 2, Part 2; Season It
If you aren’t game for the strong flavors of a good wing sauce, then seasoning your chicken is the move.
Instead of dousing our chicken in vinegar, we have the option to keep it dry, or even wet, with a milder seasoning.
Stick to a lemon pepper, or even a standard seasoning salt.
You can also melt down some butter and add in your seasoning to kick up the flavors a notch without intensifying the pallet beyond your comfort levels.
To cap it all off, we’ve learned that we want to brine or marinate our dark meat chicken for juicy, flavorful, tenderized chicken.
Then, we want to either double fry it or pan sear, then roast it in the oven for maximal flavor release and development.
Lastly, we want to sauce our chicken with a finely crafted recipe that kicks our flavors up a notch. But if we don’t want to overpower our senses, a good seasoning and a little butter will do just fine.
I hope you’ve learned something new from this blog post. And if you have more, or different, knowledge to share on this subject, then please add it to the comments below!
I check my comments and respond constantly, so I look forward to discussing this incredible subject in greater detail with you.
Until then, have a great day, and cook some great chicken!