Some experts say we’ve entered poultry’s golden age. For the first time ever, Americans are eating more chicken than beef: nearly 90 pounds a person annually. Why? For starters, not everyone can afford to prep a filet mignon on the average Tuesday night, and people are eating more healthfully, which means passing over red meat. What’s more, home cooks are more often experimenting beyond the most popular poultry cut, the breast, with once-overlooked dark meat, including thighs. Here’s why we give chicken thighs a leg up.
Dark Meat Is Tastier
Dark meat has more succulent flavor. And no, this isn’t because it’s way fattier: The general perception is that white meat is nutritionally superior to dark, but compare a boneless breast to a boneless thigh and the difference in saturated fat is less than half a gram. Dark meat also has higher amounts of iron and zinc than the white kind.
But It’s Not So Dark To Turn Off White-Meat Eaters
Thighs are a good bridge for people who claim to only prefer white meat: It still tastes like chicken, only more flavorful and juicy.
They’re Pretty Hard To Mess Up
Let a chicken breast cook three minutes too long in a skillet and you’re left with a dry, fibrous protein for dinner. Thighs are more forgiving: They can easily take the heat while staying juicy and flavorful. It’s kind of impossible to overcook them.
You Can Braise Them
Not only can thighs be roasted and simmered, but they can also stand up to a braise, which means you’ll get fall-off-the-bone tender meat in under an hour. (Sign us up.) Simply pick out the flavors you’re craving (including a liquid, such as broth, wine, or beer), sear the thighs, and then let them simmer in liquid and any other ingredients you desire. Want more details on the technique? Read how to get the perfect braise.