Chicken breasts have been a staple in my kitchen since college. We went through so many that I would buy the big frozen bag from BJ’s on a monthly basis. Gradually, I shifted to buying them at the grocery store and trimming my own. But, recently I’ve converted from buying chicken breasts to thighs.
Think about Thanksgiving. Everyone says they are going to eat healthy and go for white meat, but when you look at their plate, you can see dark meat buried at the bottom. Why? More flavor. Why? More fat, and fat equals flavor. Meat from most animal legs is tough and typically reserved for slow-cooking or braising. Chicken thighs break the rule. They are only slightly tougher than chicken breasts, which can be resolved in most recipes by cooking a little longer, and that fat content is only negligibly higher than breast meat (2.6g per serving for boneless, skinless breasts vs. 3.9g for boneless, skinless thighs), according to the National Chicken Council. And, when you stack them against one another nutritionally, they are not that different. Boneless, skinless breasts have 114 calories, 21.2g protein, and 116mg sodium per serving. Thighs have 119 calories, 19.7g protein, and 86mg sodium.
For me, thighs are more versatile, have more flavor and do not dry out as quickly on the stove, in the oven or on the grill. And, they work quite well in soup (foreshadowing…).
WHAT WORKED: Wegmans Mirepoix. Listen, there’s no way I’m going to get dinner on the table in an hour without taking a few shortcuts. If I can save a few minutes by using a pre-diced blend of carrots, celery and onion, I’m in.
WHAT DIDN’T: The broth measure. There was not nearly enough liquid left for this to be a rich soup. It was lost somewhere between soup and stew. I would add another 2 cups of broth here.
WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: Direct quote…”This is yummy.”
WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Yes. There’s a quart in the freezer, though it needs some broth when I reheat it.
Chicken and wild rice soup
Adapted from CHOW
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
1 medium garlic cloves, minced
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup wild rice blend
3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, medium dice
1/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, medium dice
1/4 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 10 minutes.
Add broth and rice, season with salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered, until rice is tender but still has some firmness, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Add chicken, and season with freshly ground black pepper. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add parsley, taste, and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.