Tuesday, July 17, 2012

baked chicken thighs with onions & peppers in chimichurri

Right on schedule, summer arrived here in Seattle on July the 5th.  It's been warm and mostly sunny here with envy-inspiring temperatures in the 70's and 80's.

Sorry, everyone else, but the Pacific Northwest is the place to be this summer.  While the rest of you across the country are dealing with one scorcher after another, rushing from your air conditioned homes to your air conditioned cars to your air conditioned destinations, we're enjoying the perfect summer weather.

Yes, I enjoy rubbing it in a little.

The farmer's markets have been exploding with the most gorgeous produce this year.  I bought some huge bundles of cilantro and Italian parsley recently just because their smells were so bold and their leaves so vibrant.
The scent of summer herbs is all I need to inspire me sometimes, you know?  Breathing in the fragrance of nature's edible incense gives me a pleasure that even the sweetest berries can't touch.  I have daydreams of an enormous herb garden, lush and full bees, growing outside my kitchen door one day.  Stepping out on summer mornings, like this one, scissors at the ready, thoughts of bouquet de garni fluttering through my mind like colorful butterflies through the flowering thyme, rosemary, and lemon balm flourishing all around me.

Sigh... it's a lovely image, this dream garden in my mind. 

For now, though, I rely on the many capable farmers vending the harvest from their own herb gardens (or fields, I suppose). 

This week I chopped up my cilantro and parsley along with some shallot, garlic and jalapeno, drizzled in some wine vinegar and olive oil to make a chimichurri sauce.  It was destined to marinate the chicken thighs I had waiting in my fridge.

I love summer in Seattle for reasons other than just the bright flavors and aromas of fresh herbs.  There are beach parties and BBQ's and water balloon fights in parks.  There are popsicles, and night walks, and parades.  The city comes out of dormancy, and tank tops come out of storage.  Summer in Seattle is a time for outdoor movies, outdoor cafes, and the zombie walk.  Noticing a theme?

Yes, in summer, Seattle moves outside.  We stretch our legs and venture out of doors and into the light.  Even those of us (well, me, at least) that have been in the northwest long enough to loath the idea of putting on a bathing suit or 'laying out' to tan our skin, can't help but love the feeling of driving with the windows down, throwing on a pair of shorts, and walking barefoot through the grass in a nearby park.

Summer is short.  And it is blissful.

Also blissful is this chicken.  The meat is moist and zesty with the flavors of Argentina.  The onions and peppers are roasted to sweet perfection. We ate this two nights in a row, we were so in love. 

Happy summer, friends.

Baked Chicken Thighs with Onions & Peppers in Chimichurri
serves 3-4

1/3 C. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 jalapeno with seeds, minced
2 C. cilantro, minced (about 2 medium bunches)
1 C. Italian parsley, minced (1 medium bunch)
3/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tsp. crushed chili flakes
fresh ground black pepper

1/2 large onion, cut into ~6 wedges
1/2 large red bell pepper, cut into 3/4" wedges

3-4 large bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
salt and pepper

For the chimichurri:
  • Mix the vinegar, salt, garlic, shallot and jalapeno in a medium bowl, and let stand for about 10 minutes.

  • Stir in the cilantro and parsley. Then whisk in olive oil, using a fork.  Stir in chili flakes and season with black pepper.  Set aside.

For the chicken:
  • Season the chicken well with salt and pepper, both under and outside the skin.  Arrange the thighs snuggly in a baking dish and spoon all but 1 C. of chimichurri over chicken.  Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight, turning once.

  • Preheat oven to 400 F.

  • Remove chicken from fridge about 15 minutes before cooking.  Arrange thighs and marinade in a large cast iron or other oven-safe skillet or casserole dish.

  • Place onion and bell pepper wedges in skillet around chicken thighs, and spoon some of remaining chimichurri over veggies. 

  • Bake chicken and veggies for 30-40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  Remove from oven, and serve chicken thighs along with roasted onions and peppers, spooning pan sauce over both.

  • Store any leftover chimichurri in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.  Use as a marinade or sauce for other meats and veggies.

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