There are a thousand chicken thigh recipes out there to tempt you but I’ll go all out and say that my recipe for 7-Ingredient Sticky Chicken Thighs may be a lazy one but it will have you licking your fingers. I guarantee. It uses just just about 7 ingredients and you’ll hardly break a sweat cooking them and the result – moist chicken thighs coated with a delicious syrup,will be more than worth it. Hot, sweet and savoury all at once, expect sticky fingers and chins.
When it comes to choosing between chicken breast and chicken thighs, I’m partial to dark meat, simply because it has loads more flavour and stays tender – there’s very little risk of overcooking them. Slow cooking does most of the work in this recipe, so you can look forward to juicy morsels of chicken.
I used boneless chicken thighs – you could also throw in chicken drumsticks if you like. The thigh has a single bone so either you can de-bone it yourself or ask your butcher to do the needful. If bone-is more to your liking, go that route. The slow cooking will extract maximum flavour from the bone. And yes, remember to discard the skin and excess strips of fat. You want it to be moist, not greasy. Once washed, the thighs must be patted dry with kitchen towels. Do remember that poultry is notorious carrier of foodborne diseases; so use separate chopping boards and utensils for chicken and make sure you wash your hands, sink and utensils thoroughly.
The list of ingredients is rather minimal – regular,store cupboard staples that do not require a shopping trip. Ginger, garlic, honey, soy sauce, chilli paste, salt and oil mix and meld in a joyous sauce that I had to stop myself from licking off the pan. What I like about these chicken thighs is that they are perfect for weeknight dinners and should you want to show them off for a dinner party, they are special enough to wow guests as the main course, paired with sauteed vegetables or even noodles.
Homemade chilli paste colours this dish crimson. I make chilli paste which I keep in my fridge for weeks and use for all kinds of dishes from soups to spicy noodles and stir fries. Made with Kashmiri chillies, the paste blooms a punchy vermillion that gives the dish a red colour that’s hard to resist. These chillies give off a mild buttery aroma when cooked. Can’t lay your hands on Kashmiri chillies? Go for the brightest dry chilli (not the hottest) available; just adjust the quantity depending on your taste. If chillies are your thing, you might find this interesting.
My chilli paste has just 2 ingredients:
25 g dry red chillies (preferably Kashmiri chillies)
200 ml white vinegar
To make the paste:
- Snap the dry chillies and shake out the seeds. Soak the chillies in the vinegar for 2 hours (make sure they’re submerged in the vinegar); use a little water to dilute the vinegar if the chillies aren’t covered. The rehydration will make the chillies pulpy and soft.
- Whizz the softened chillies in a blender with some of the vinegar till you have a smooth red mixture..
- Store in an airtight jar in the fridge. It will keep for a month, maybe more.
It’s easy to make, but if you’d rather not, any readymade chilli paste or hot sauce will make an equally good substitute. Pick the brand and strength of hot sauce based on how much heat you’d like in your food. Sriracha would be beautiful, but doesn’t have to be the hottest one. The idea is to get a hit of heat, not to make your eyes water.
Since these chicken thighs are first seared on high heat to seal in the moisture and then cooked very slowly, I just made sure that my pan had a tight fitting lid to stop all that precious steam from escaping. A sauna for the chicken so to speak. For this, a slow cooker or casserole will also do. It’ll just take a little longer. By the time the chicken thighs are done, the sauce should have reached honey-like viscosity.There should be just enough to glaze the chicken pieces when served. I made it for dinner and while clearing up couldn’t stop myself from running my fingers over the pan to gather the few stubborn drops of sticky chickeny sauce that I shamelessly licked off.
- 6 skinless chicken thighs, deboned
- 3 fat garlic cloves, smashed
- 1-inch piece of ginger, smashed
- 3 tbsps chilli paste
- 2 tbsps honey
- 3 tbsps light soy sauce
- 2 tbsps oil
- Rub the chicken with 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 smashed clove of garlic. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
- Heat oil in a pan till very hot. Put in 3 chicken thighs at a time and cook for a minute on each side till the thighs are lightly browned and seared. Remove on a plate and fry all the thighs in a similar way.
- Once all the chicken is seared, put them back in the pan or in a slow cooker.
- Whisk together the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, chilli paste and honey in a bowl, making sure they are well combined.
- Pour this mixture over the chicken pieces and cook on low heat for about 30-40 minutes with the lid on. It will take longer in a slow cooker - 60 minutes.
- Turn off the heat when the chicken is tender and the sauce has reduced to a sticky, glaze-like consistency.
- Cooking and prep time does not include marinating time.