Stop Buying Boneless Chicken Thighs

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boneless chicken thigh
Image: Getty

Anybody who eats chicken will tell you how much they enjoy a boneless, skinless thigh piece. Juicy, tender, and well suited to everything from flash-frying to slow braising, they’re the perfect cut for just about any recipe. Given this is common knowledge now, what once used to be a budget-friendly hack is no longer the cheap meal we eagerly go to the grocery stores for.

This is why I’m a big fan of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, which are slightly less convenient — but far more affordable. They’re rich and fatty like a great chicken wing, yet meaty and substantial enough to be a meal on their own. Bone-in thighs also happen to be the ideal introduction to breaking down meat yourself, a skill that not enough people even think to develop. With a modicum of effort, choosing bone-in over boneless gets you twice the chicken for half the money.

I cannot stress enough how easy it is to de-bone a chicken thigh. There is exactly one bone. To remove it, trace its edges with the tip of your knife and pull it out. That’s it.

If you like, you can also remove the skin (it peels right off) and reserve it for another use, like schmaltz—or, as the chef in this YouTube video suggests, grilled chicken skin skewers with sea salt. (Yes, please.) In just a few minutes, you’ll have a pile of deboned thigh meat plus all the skin and bones you need to make a fantastic pot of stock.

Perhaps you’d rather avoid any amount of amateur butchery, which is a valid preference. Bone-in thighs are still the move, especially for all the braises you’re planning for the season ahead. Start them skin side-down in a cold pan, turn the heat to medium, and cook undisturbed for 15-20 minutes until crispy and deep brown. Then, even if the recipe says otherwise, peel off and reserve the skin before continuing with the rest of the recipe.

Besides the obvious golden brown crispy goodness, there are a few benefits to this technique. Peeling the skin off early limits the amount of chicken fat in the finished dish and lets you avoid picking slippery skin off a boiling-hot piece of meat later. But more importantly, pre-crisped skin makes the richest, deepest stock you’ve ever had with no additional effort. That’s reason enough for me—especially during soup season.

This article has been updated since its original publication.

Comments

      • That’s not what I said, read it again, then go look at the link and find a bit more info on the subject, then turn your brain on and have a think about what you have found out, and ask yourself, do you really want to keep being a part of that? If you answer yes, then no-one can help you…

      • Go get a clue, meathead. See, it’s easy to throw around pointless insults, I bet you made no effort to even look at that one link I posted. This is what I hate about the human race, living in ignorance seems to be the preferable state because actually learning something, especially something that is in conflict with your current behaviour, is too scary. This is why the human race is such a mess, most people are just plain ignorant of, well, just about everything.

      • That may be true, but the vast majority of chickens raised for meat are factory farmed and are genetically bred to grow rapidly, they are basically genetic disasters. The few that get rescued grow so fast they end up with deformed legs and need special care. The chickens that are killed in factories are 6-8 weeks old and are massive compared to a normal 6 week old chicken. Humans are by far the most cruel, selfish and screwed up species on the planet, there’s no contest there, nothing else even comes close to us in that respect.

        • The fact that many humans consider the moral interests of other animals seems to suggest to me that we are less cruel than many other animals species, which kill other animals without compunction.

    • I read the Wikipedia section you linked to, and I definitely have empathy for animals. But I do believe that you can be ethical in the sourcing of meats, and avoid many of the problems commonly associated with the inhumane treatment of animals.

  • Vegans are like Christians – they are the worst possible prophets for their own cause. I acknowledge there are upsides to veganism but boy are the practitioners masters of driving away everyday people from their philosophy.

      • As said in the wise words of spod12 from above (emphasis mine):
        This is what I hate about the human race, living in ignorance seems to be the preferable state because actually learning something, especially something that is in conflict with your current behaviour, is too scary.
        its all well and good for vegans to say someone else is ignorant while they have their fingers in their ears and their eyes closed while spewing the nonsense they expect everyone else to just agree with.

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