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Crispy Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs: An Entire Family Meal for $5

Crispy, delicious Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs served with mashed potatoes and Sauteed Peas and Onions. A homecooked meal for four for around $5.

The secret to a tender and juicy chicken thigh is to keep it at a modest temperature --at least 120 but not above 190--for an extended period. If you can slowly sear a nice crispy skin on the thigh, then reduce the heat and cook it slowly at a low temperature, you will have a perfect chicken thigh.

The good news with this method is that you only need the chicken thighs, salt and pepper, about 1 tablespoon of oil, and some fresh or dried thyme. There is no breading, no flour, no deep frying. No mess, no fuss. The result is a thigh with no carbs, so your keto and low-carb friends will love this dish.

The Chicken

This is made with chicken thighs - you can use drumsticks in a pinch, but don't substitute chicken breast. This is just not the right method to cook a chicken breast. Make sure you have thighs with the skin and the bone intact--the skin becomes crispy, so boneless, skinless thighs also don't work.

You will immediately find that many outlets have fantastic prices on whole chicken thighs. I used 1.75 pounds of chicken thighs from Aldi, which were $1.59/pound when I purchased them. Aldi sells these thighs in smaller quantities, but you can get a bunch of them cheaply at Sam's Club or Walmart. Wild Fork has a frozen option for $1.50 per pound.

Look for thighs with plump and intact skin. You last want your beautiful crispy skin falling off your chicken thighs.

To serve four people, make sure you have four good-sized chicken thighs. This will weigh from 1.5 pounds to 2 pounds.

The Pan

You will need a solid pan to slow-roast your chicken properly. Cast iron is a particularly excellent choice. The best pan for the job is a copper chicken fryer (a frying pan with high sides). Alternatively, a Dutch oven or other deep, insulated pot will do the job well. Choose a pan that will hold the heat well and distribute it evenly. This is not a job for a non-stick sauté pan.

The Technique

First, get your pan medium-hot, and place a tablespoon of oil in the pan. Place your chicken thighs, skin side down, in the pan and sear for 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let your thighs be--no touching, moving, or flipping. Just do something and leave your thighs to cook for 20-25 minutes. They should have formed a wonderful "crust" at that time. When your thighs are perfectly browned, flip them over and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Add the fresh thyme to the pan and infuse the flavor into the drippings. Check the temperature on your thighs in the center-they should be about 165 at this point. Take your thighs from the pan and let rest on a plate.

Pour off excess fat and begin browning the onions in the pan drippings, then add thawed peas. Make sure the peas are cooked, but don't boil them. It causes them to shrivel up and become tough and chewy. Season the peas and onions. Move to a bowl.

The Sauteed Peas and Onions

This recipe involves deglazing the roasting pan with onions and cooking peas in the drippings. This creates a wonderful vegetable side dish with loads of flavor. If you don't like peas, use any vegetable you wish, but don't leave all that flavor in the bottom of the roasting pan. You will notice the instructions ask that you warm but not boil the peas--boiling makes the peas shrivel up and look unappetizing. Make sure, however, that your peas are cooked.

The Mashed Potatoes

Start with four medium Russet or yellow potatoes. Peel and rinse and cut into quarters. Boil until very tender. Drain and add the butter, and use a masher to get a good, even texture. Add the cream and enough additional milk (if necessary) to get the texture you like. Use the pan drippings from the peas as gravy and add some butter.

Crispy Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Pea and Onion Saute

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