I was perusing through various chicken thigh recipes on Pintrest the other day. I am a very visual person so I like to see the potential outcome of a recipe before I’ll even consider attempting it. Even when I make up my own recipes as I go, as I am often prone to do, I still have some vague, distant image of the end product. A far off and yet attainable vision.
I like to have a general idea of where I’ll end up. A sky-high stack of pancakes with gilded cascades of honeyed fruit. A crisp grilled-cheese with molten rivers of brie streaming down its sides. A group of golden chicken thighs sitting in a deep, vibrant sauce, awash with verdant scatterings of fresh herbs. This last image is one that literally jumped off the page as I cruised trough recipes. I saw it and I knew that this would be dinner.
Now, because I possess the basic faculties needed to construct a decent meal, I merely scanned the ingredients needed for the recipe on the blog The Mediterranean Dish. You can find the original recipe for Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs HERE. They looked beautiful and I knew for sure I had limes and thighs. Cool. So I’m scanning…garlic? Check. Scanning….wine? Hmmm well I have an array of fancy Heritage Distilling Vodkas to choose from, so that should do. Scanning…cilantro? I have something green in the fridge, probably cilantro. Ok, check. Spice rub for chicken….meh I have spices. So check.
Suzy, the blog’s creator, lays everything out clearly and with plenty of visuals which I love—but have yet to really include in my own blog. Sorry guys. Everything is easy to follow—provided you are not like me, scanning recipes with a sort of vague comprehension and an unwarranted confidence. Check out her recipe! If you do you will most likely notice that it very clearly calls for two cups of chicken stock. Hmm. Funny, I missed that in all my furious scanning. Oh, and that green stuff in my fridge was parsley, not cilantro.
I didn’t realize this until I had already made my own version of her spice rub and had started frying up my chicken. I added in the HDC Sweet Ghost Pepper Vodka and let it simmer. Glanced at the recipe one more time, let cook to reduce then add the broth… The broth? What broth? Cue exasperated sigh while holding the bridge of my nose. Perfect, Christine! So I’m scrambling around the kitchen trying to find something that will suffice. To my utter despair all I had was beef stock. That wouldn’t work. Meanwhile that sauce was reducing away.
Hmmm. Coconut milk! I have that! But I still wanted some sort of broth-type liquid to thin it out. At this point I just decided to add water in and season it up before adding the chicken back in. Now let me pause here. I would absolutely still add the coconut milk in this recipe. Yes two cups of broth would work, but this was so amazing you need to try it. Next time I make this I will use one cup coconut milk and one cup stock. Since I used one cup of water instead of broth I had to season the sauce a bit more; (I used a Cajun spice seasoning that has salt, garlic powder, paprika, etc.) It came out great but if you have chicken stock use that instead of water. Saves some time and the hassle.
I let it bake, fully confident…that I had no idea how this was going to come out. Yet I remained calm. It was in the food god’s hands now. The second the oven timer went off and I opened it up, I knew by scent alone that I had just made culinary history–in my little kitchen at least. I ended up achieving visually what I set out to and more importantly, it tasted like awesome!
My point here is this; I totally messed up in my haste. But I took a few breaths and improvised and I was rewarded with one of the best chicken dishes I’ve ever made. I encourage you to embrace your mistakes, take a chance, play with ingredients. When cooler heads prevail—magical things happen!
- For Chicken Thighs and Rub
- 5 Chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
- 1 ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- ¾ tsp. paprika
- ½ tsp. cumin
- 1 ½ tsp. garlic powder
- For the Sauce
- 8 cloves of garlic, rough chop
- Juice from 2 limes
- 1 cup chicken broth (or you could use water and season it with whatever spices you'd like!)
- 1 cup coconut milk
- ¾ cup Sweet Ghost Pepper Vodka
- ½ cup chopped parsley or cilantro, plus more for serving
- Salt and Pepper
- Olive Oil for frying
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- Trim any excess fat from the chicken thighs and pat dry with paper towels.
- Mix spices together and rub all over chicken thighs, including under the skin. Set aside.
- Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large over-proof skillet or cast iron pan.
- Brown chicken thighs on all sides until a deep golden brown.
- Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add in garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
- Add in vodka and simmer for a few minutes until alcohol dissipates and liquid reduces a bit.
- Add in chicken broth, coconut milk, lime juice and simmer for a few minutes more, seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
- Add chicken back in, skin side up, along with parsley or cilantro.
- Cover pan with lid or foil and place in oven for about 1 hour, or until thighs are cooked through.
- Remove from oven. Top with fresh parsley or cilantro and serve over steamed rice or mashed potatoes!