Chicken thighs are juicy, tender and can be cooked in a variety of recipes

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By Norm Harding, Reporter

I am still amazed I knew almost nothing about chicken thighs until I moved here about 10 years ago.

We ate a lot of chicken breasts and whole chickens, but always thought the thighs didn’t have much meat on them. Boy, was I surprised. Now I can’t get enough of them. I can’t even seem to over-cook them. They always come out juicy and tender.

I’ve spent the last few years coming up with more and more recipes using chicken thighs. We’ve eaten such dishes as “Roasted Chicken Thighs with Red Potatoes and Oranges,” “Creole Gumbo,” “Chicken Marbella,” “Baked Onion Chicken,” “General Tso’s Chicken,” “Indian Tandoori Chicken” and even “Chicken Cacciatore.”

I know most of you have your favorites. How about sharing them with everyone? I can’t promise you a T-shirt, but I’ll try to publish as many as I can in this column.

This week I’ve included a couple more great chicken thigh recipes: “Teriyaki Chicken” and “Moroccan Chicken.” The aroma of both (not at the same time, of course) will really get your appetite churning.

Teriyaki Chicken

Chicken thighs are coated with a blend of soy sauce, cider vinegar, ginger and garlic and then baked. The aroma will make you wish that you had made more!

12 chicken thighs, skin removed

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 Tbsp. cold water

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cornstarch, cold water, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and ground black pepper. Simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken thighs in a lightly greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Coat the chicken with some of the sauce. Turn thighs over and coat the other side with sauce. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Turn pieces over, add more sauce if needed, and bake, uncovered, for another 30 minutes, or until juices run clear. Place chicken on a serving dish and add remaining sauce. Makes 6-8 servings.

Moroccan Chicken

4-6 chicken thighs and legs (in combination)

2 onions, chopped

1-1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1 clove garlic, chopped

Black pepper to taste

1 tsp. salt

3 Tbsps. olive oil

2 lb. carrots, peeled and thickly sliced

3 Tbsps. chopped fresh parsley

3 Tbsps. chopped fresh cilantro

1 Tbsp. honey

Squeeze of lemon juice

Cut the chicken pieces in half. Place the meat, one chopped onion, spices, garlic, ginger, pepper, salt and oil in a wide saucepan. Add enough water to just cover, then put on a lid, bring to the boil and slowly simmer. After 45 minutes, or when the meat is almost cooked, add the remaining onion, carrots, half each of the parsley and cilantro, and the honey. Stir and continue simmering uncovered for 30-40 minutes more until the liquid is reduced to a thick sauce. Stir in a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Cover and cook for additional 5 minutes on low heat. Sprinkle with parsley and cilantro and serve hot. Makes 4 servings.

Crockpot Moussaka

If you don’t have the time to make the original version, just put all the ingredients in a crockpot in the morning and enjoy this dish at night.

1 lb. ground beef

1 large eggplant, peeled

1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes

1 large white onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce

1 tsp. black pepper

4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

In a large skillet, brown ground beef over medium-high heat; drain and set aside.

Peel and slice the eggplant and place in the crockpot. Then, add the ground beef and remaining ingredients, except the cheese. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Spoon servings onto plates and sprinkle with feta cheese. Makes 6 servings.

Basmati Rice Salad

2 cups water

1 cups basmati rice

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/2 cup thinly sliced celery

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 Tbsps. olive oil

2 Tbsps. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. sauce

1 tsp. ground cumin

Combine water and rice in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Cover; reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 35 minutes. Drain if necessary. Transfer rice to large bowl. Fluff with fork. Cool.

Mix in green onions, celery, parsley and pecans. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, soy sauce and cumin in small bowl to blend. Pour over rice salad; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Shrimp Scampi

This is an easy recipe for shrimp scampi, made with shrimp, garlic, butter and a little white wine and lemon juice.

1-1/2 pounds large shrimp (about 16-24)

1/3 cup clarified butter

4 Tbsps. minced garlic

6 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsps. chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse shrimp and set aside. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for a couple minutes or until softened but not browned. Add shrimp, green onions, wine and lemon juice; cook until shrimp are pink and firm, about 2 minutes on each side. Do not overcook. Add chopped parsley and salt and pepper before serving. Garnish with lemon slices and parsley sprigs.

Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at nharding@brunswickbeacon.com.