Monday, September 12, 2016

My spin on Sheet Pan Dinner- Cilantro Lime Chicken

I spent the whole winter counting the days til the warm spring sun shines down on me and I can start thinking about growing fresh herbs again. I've weeks flipping through garden catalogs and seed flyers and anxiously awaiting the springtime. This is our first summer in the city house and once again I be able to fine beautiful fresh herbs. I didn't plant a garden this spring, but with an abundance of farmers markets and specialty grocery stores I will have so many options. I plan to really embrace cilantro. Cilantro is the Either Or Plant- you either love it or you hate it. I used to detest the stuff and gagged any time I detected even a hint of it in my salsa. I decided to make an honest attempt to embrace it, and I sure have, falling in love the the flowery herby essence and bright flavor that's so unique.

All those fresh herbs mean I will have lots of great new flavors to play with. Cilantro is just inviting me to go in a Latin direction. Cilantro and lime are perfect partners, and juicy chicken is the perfect protein to showcase those flavors. While you can opt for chicken breasts, which work great in this recipe, chicken thighs are where the flavor is. Be sure to buy bone-in chicken thighs. This marinade is perfect for all kinds of chicken, so if you prefer a big platter of chicken legs, go for it. It's not too shabby for a wing recipe either. I opted to brown my chicken in that trusty cast iron beauty I have and finish as a "sheet pan dinner" but you can roast it right in the skillet and skip the vegetables or grill this chicken too.  

Juicy Cilantro Lime Chicken 

6 skin on, bone in chicken thighs (I used leg quarters, cut up, so 3 legs and 3 thighs)
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more
3 tablespoons lime juice
zest of one lime
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup minced cilantro (stems and leaves)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
baby Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4 cups)
1 medium onion
2 red or orange bell peppers

Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towel. Place in a large zip top bag along with all the other ingredients. Seal the bag and massage to mix ingredients and coat the chicken. Allow the chicken to marinate 3-4 hours (you can go overnight in the fridge too).

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Using a heavy oven safe skillet, such as cast iron, heat the skillet over medium high heat. Add a small amount of cooking oil and place the chicken, skin side down, in the hot pan. Allow the skin side to brown well, then flip the chicken and brown the other side. 

While the chicken is browning, prepare your veggies. Cut the potatoes in half, cut the onion into wedges and cut the peppers into chunks. Toss veggies with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Spread the veggies evenly onto the foil. Top with the chicken. Spoon the pan juices over. Bake until chicken tests done, 45 minutes to an hour, and the skin is golden brown.

Garnish with additional lime slices for squeezing and sprinkle with additional chopped cilantro.

Choosing the chicken for this dish is important. A lot of people think they don't like chicken on the bone. You have to get past that thinking guys. Bone in and skin on chicken is by far more flavorful and juicy than a boneless skinless breast can ever hope to be. Plus, you don't get the gorgeous browning and flavor building that you do with skin on chicken. Face your fears and buy the bone in chicken. You won't regret it.

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