Perhaps many of you who are sheltering in place during this pandemic are like me and are often faced with produce about to go bad or with other products nearing their use-by dates. I can only attribute this situation to my buying more food items than necessary for fear that when I need something, it won’t be available.
Such was the case yesterday, when I saw some delicious grape tomatoes that were just beyond their prime, a half piece of feta that I couldn’t remember when I had opened, and some defrosted chicken thighs that were in the back of the fridge.
Somewhat serendipitously, the August issue of Bon Appétit sitting on the cocktail table had a recipe that featured these three ingredients. In fact, I had everything that was needed except for fresh oregano, which I seldom buy and for which I often substitute the dried variety.
The recipe was quite straightforward and fortunately, given our current heat wave, didn’t require turning on the oven. (A version of this recipe is also available on the Bon Appétit website.)
As I only had three chicken thighs, I pretty much halved the recipe, except for the harissa with which I may have gone a bit overboard as I like its heat. I also departed from the recipe in several ways. To avoid sticking, I lightly oiled the skillet before placing the chicken in it. I also added some white wine after the tomatoes had burst to loosen the sauce and deglaze the plan. Since I wanted to warm the cheese, I added the feta immediately after taking the chicken off the heat rather than waiting five minutes. Finally, for fresh oregano I substituted dried in the sauce as well as chopped parsley for the garnish.
At the table, we were both wowed by the dish. The chicken was crispy, tender, and moist. The sauce was delectably sweet from the tomatoes and was enhanced by a subtle heat from the harissa. The warmed feta perfectly complemented the dish with its briny creaminess. A perfect weeknight supper. We served it with creamy polenta.
Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes and Feta (adapted from a recipe by Molly Baz in the August 2020 issue of Bon Appétit.)
3 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 11⁄4 lb. total)
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
¾ pound grape tomatoes (any color)
scant ¼ cup harissa paste
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup dry white wine
3 oz. feta cut into ¼-inch planks
¼ cup chopped parsley
Polenta (for serving)
1. Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Season all over with 1 ½ teaspoon salt.
2. Place chicken (skin side down) in a large lightly oiled cast-iron skillet with the heat off. Heat over medium and cook chicken, undisturbed, rotating skillet as needed for even browning until skin is golden brown and crisp and releases from pan, 13–16 minutes.
3. Using tongs, transfer chicken to a plate, arranging skin side up.
4. Add tomatoes, harissa paste, red-wine vinegar, dried oregano, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt to the pan. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes burst and and the juices have started to thicken, 8–10 minutes.
5. Add the wine to loosen the sauce and deglaze the pan.
6. Nestle chicken thighs back into skillet skin side up.
7. Reduce heat to medium-low, bring to a simmer, and cook until chicken is just cooked through and flesh is no longer pink (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part near the bone will register 165°), and tomato sauce has thickened so that a wooden spoon dragged through leaves a trail, 6–8 minutes.
8. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes.
9. Break feta planks into large pieces, scattering over the chicken. Some pieces will stay intact while others will soften into the sauce a little—and that’s
exactly what you want.
10. Scatter chopped parsley over chicken and tomatoes.
Serve on warmed plates with polenta or crisp bread sopping up any extra tomato sauce.
Wine Pairing: Syrah