Devil's Chicken

Just because Spring has sprung, it doesn't mean we're not blasted with a bit of frigid weather still. This is especially true in Wisconsin, where the calendar tells us Spring is here, but a look out the window can show us sunshine and birds singing, sleet pounding against said window, or snow starting to reach shoveling status ... and sometimes we get all of those things in a single day! So having some clever meal ideas that wake up our taste buds but still hit those comfort food buttons is a good idea.

For me, that means Devil's Chicken. Named for the combination of mustard, crushed red pepper, and ginger, it's a brightly-flavored, tender, juicy dish that plays well with both salads and roasted vegetables (or both) and if you put the marinade together early and give it a soak during the day or even start it the night before, it can be on the table in under a half hour when it comes time to cook. Just make sure you have a cast iron skillet or other heavy pan for cooking it. You're going to want to get a crust on the chicken and the type of pan you use is very important.

As I said earlier, this dish plays well with a lot of different sides. I've been known to slice the chicken and toss it with a salad or pasta. It's nice along creamy mashed or crispy roasted potatoes. Having it alongside lots of vegetables means being able to add a bunch of color to your plate too, which can be particularly nice during this period of time when we often ask ourselves, "But when is Spring really coming?"

Devil's Chicken

  • 1 tsp. mustard - I chose a thick, syrupy variety
  • ½ - 1½ tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 4-6 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. rosemary
  • ½ tsp. thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • ½ c. olive oil
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 T. cooking fat of your choice - I used bacon fat

Combine the first 10 ingredients (mustard through olive oil) to make a marinade. Place the marinade in a shallow glass dish and add the chicken thighs, turning to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 48 hours. You might want to turn the chicken again once or twice.

When it's time to make dinner, heat the cooking oil of your choice over medium-high heat in a cast iron pan or the heaviest skillet you own. Remove the chicken from the marinade using tongs and place it into the hot pan. Allow the chicken to sear on one side for 4-5 minutes before turning and allowing the other side to sear as well. Reduce the heat to low and allow the chicken to cook until fully finished, about 10 minutes or so. If you want, you could add a splash of dry white wine to the mix, but you could also just pour it in a glass and toast your fine efforts!

Allow the chicken to rest for about 5 minutes before serving alongside roasted vegetables and a nice salad. Oh, and more of that wine.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes, plus marinating time

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