RECIPE: Chicken puts weeknight porchetta within reach

Porchetta-Style Chicken Thighs
Chris Hunt for The Atlanta-Journal Constitution

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

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Porchetta-Style Chicken Thighs Chris Hunt for The Atlanta-Journal Constitution

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Traditional porchetta is the kind of dish you either order from a restaurant or make for a special occasion. It’s made by wrapping a spice-rubbed pork loin with pork belly and then roasting it until the skin crackles and the loin is tender. It’s delicious, but a far cry from a weeknight meal. And while you can find alternative recipes using quick-cooking cuts of pork, I prefer an adaptation using chicken thighs.

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs not only cook quickly but, because they contain a good amount of fat, they’re also quite forgiving and stay juicier than most quick-cooking cuts of pork. They’re also mild in flavor, so they take well to traditional porchetta spices: garlic, rosemary, fennel and lemon. While you can add all four of those seasonings to the chicken before cooking, I reserve the lemon — zest and juice — until serving. It will add a bright freshness to the rich chicken.

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To cook, I prefer to broil rather than roast the thighs. The high heat of the broiler helps to brown the poultry and crisp the edges quickly. In addition, broiling the thighs on a rack set over a baking sheet prevents the juices from turning the meat soggy. You can cook these thighs just as effectively on a gas grill. Set it to medium-high and cook covered, flipping once after the first side has browned. Either way, this porchetta-style chicken is best paired with plenty of seasonal vegetables.

Porchetta-Style Chicken Thighs
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 lemon
  • Heat broiler to high with a rack placed in the position nearest to the heating element. Place a wire cooling rack on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • While the broiler is heating, toss the chicken with the oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and fennel seeds in a large bowl. Massage the spice mixture into the chicken, then transfer to the rack on the prepared pan.
  • Broil until well browned on the first side, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully flip the chicken. Return to the broiler and continue to cook until well browned on the second side, 7 to 8 more minutes. Remove from the oven.
  • Zest the lemon over the chicken, then slice the lemon in half. Juice the lemon over the chicken, transfer to a platter and serve. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 343 calories (percent of calories from fat, 44), 44 grams protein, 3 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 16 grams total fat (3 grams saturated), 207 milligrams cholesterol, 1,376 milligrams sodium.
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