Marinate Your Chicken in Leftover Onion Dip

Marinate Your Chicken in Leftover Onion Dip
Photo: Claire Lower

Some will say there is no such thing as “leftover onion dip,” but running out of chips is a very real disaster, and it can leave you with a surplus of the stuff. Last night I faced just such a crisis: Out of chips, I was left with a small amount of extra dip — just a few tablespoons — but it was still far too much to toss. So, I smeared the bonus dip all over a chicken thigh and let it hang out in the fridge for a few hours.

Though the act was impulsive, it was not unprecedented. I’ve long been a fan of marinating chicken in dairy — especially labneh and buttermilk — and have a history of using onion dip for non-dipping purposes. This particular dip was mostly sour cream, which is similar to labneh, but it also had a little mayo mixed in, along with some MSG and, of course, a smattering of deeply flavourful onions. With their powers combined, these ingredients rendered the chicken thigh juicy and tender, with a dark, umami-packed crust: the lactic acid in the sour cream tenderised, the mayo helped form a crust and the MSG and onions added flavour. It was good, and I’d do it again.

You don’t have to use onion dip for your marinade, and it’s not crucial the dip contain mayo; any dairy-based dip will do. Just smear on enough to coat your piece(s) of chicken, let it marinate for a couple of hours (or, even better, overnight), then wipe off the excess before cooking (stuck-on little bits like pieces of onion will burn, so knock ‘em off with paper towel). However you usually cook chicken will work, but I like pan-frying mine so I don’t have to switch the oven on. Just heat a stainless steel pan over medium heat, then fry the chicken until a deep, golden crust forms, with some charred spots here and there. There’s no need to add excess oil to the pan, as the chicken is already well-lubricated, though you could wipe the pan with a little vegetable oil if you are paranoid. If your chicken sticks to the pan, resist the urge to rip it from the metal and just wait — it will detach, once that delicious crust develops.

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