3 Savory Chicken Thigh Recipes

Chicken thighs are one of the unsung heroes of the grocery meat isle.

They are inexpensive, packed with flavor and versatile. And yet there are only so many ways you can serve them before their unlovely, rectangular shape wears a bit thin.

Not to worry! With the help of a food processor and few herbs and spices you can whip up meals using these pedestrian cuts that will breathe new life into your weekly menu.

(Hint: Buying frozen chicken thighs in bulk at a discount warehouse club such as Sam’s Club (Stock Quote: WMT), BJ’s Warehouse (Stock Quote: BJ) or Costco (Stock Quote: COST) can really add to your savings.)

Here are three meals that taste good and are budget-friendly.

1. Thai Meatballs

Making chicken meatballs could not be easier—but there are some rules.

First, all of the ingredients, as well as the bowl and blade of the food processor, must be as cold as possible. Chill the chicken, bowl, blade and aromatics in the freezer for ten minutes or so before mixing with everything else. Chilling will prevent the mixture from “breaking,” so it can stick together and form nice solid shapes.

Second, be careful not to over mix the ingredients. Pulse the chicken in the food processor in four to five second bursts until the mixture just starts to form clumps in the processor bowl.

Thai meatballs have a nice bright and fresh flavor that goes great with citrus and ginger flavors.

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cubed
1 small red onion or two shallots chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 egg
1 small bunch fresh cilantro, washed, dried and chopped roughly
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp. Ginger powder
1 teaspoon lite soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 dash fish sauce (optional)

Combine all ingredients in the food processor and pulse until the meat becomes sticky. Roll into small 1 1/2 inch balls and brown in an oiled pan over medium heat. Finish the meatballs in simmering broth for seven minutes. You may use packaged Thai rice noodle soup or chicken stock that has been simmered with fresh ginger pieces, limejuice and coconut milk.

Alternative recipe: Take mixture and stuff into packaged won-ton wrappers available at many specialty stores. Seal with water around the edges and then either steam or fry and serve as an appetizer.

2. Yakitori Style Skewers

Yakitori is a form of Japanese BBQ that is just as great under the broiler as it is on the grill. Try these skewers at your next outdoor get together instead of the same old hot dogs and hamburgers.

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless thighs, cubed
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
1 dash of soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all the ingredients in the food processor and pulse until the mixture is sticky (about 45 seconds to a minute).  Form around skewers; place them on a sheet of tin foil and place in the broiler for 10 minutes, turning once.

Serve over rice along with a salad dressed with toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar.

3. Italian Meatballs

Like regular Italian meatballs, but not as heavy and greasy. The chicken will not overpower the flavor of delicate sauces either.

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cubed
2/3 cup French or Italian bread soaked briefly in milk
1 small onion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 egg plus one egg yolk
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. Black pepper
1/2 bunch fresh basil chopped or 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Sauté onions and garlic and then chill in the freezer until cool. Add onions, garlic and the balance of the ingredients into the food processor until sticky. Form into medium sized balls (2 inches or so) and brown in a medium hot skillet with plenty of olive oil. Simmer in marinara sauce for 20 minutes and serve with al dente pasta.

Keep in mind that these recipes are just templates. If you keep the amounts of meat and salt the same as in the above recipes you can add almost any flavors you like. 

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