Chicken thighs are a cheap part of the chicken and like any muscle that does a lot of work they are probably the tastiest part of the bird. However, like all active muscles they are best if marinated before hand and cooked thoroughly until tender.
The use of lemon juice both pre-cooks the meat and helps tenderize it. As a result, pre-marinading the meat in lemon juice is a bit like extended cooking which significantly helps in tenderizing the meat.
As my wife is West African we would normally pound 1 hot chilli and 1/4 sliced onion in a mortar and add this to the marinade, but this makes the dish too hot for many tastes, so the recipe below is considerably toned down compared to how I would really cook it at home. But if you want to be adventurous, or if you like chillies then add the chilli and onion paste to the marinade mix.
Lemon-spiced Chicken RecipeServes: 4
12 chicken thighs
5 tbsp olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1 small bunch of thyme sprigs
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
Method:Trim off any excess fat from the chicken thighs. Arrange the chicken in a baking dish just large enough to hold them comfortably.
Combine the oil, lemon juice, cumin, paprika, chilli flakes, oregano, thyme, salt and black pepper in a bowl. Whisk to combine then pour over the chicken and turn the pieces to coat thoroughly.
Cover and set aside to marinate for at least 40 minutes (best if you refrigerator over night). Turn the chicken thighs so that they are skin side up. Transfer to an oven pre-heated to 200ºC (400ºF, Gas Mark 6) and roast for about 50 minutes, or until nicely browned, cooked through and tender.
Serve immediately, drizzled with the pan juices.