Disclaimer: If you do not like the taste of Cilantro, because it reminds you of childhood and having your mouth washed out, then #1, we can definitely be friends! (I too had my mouth washed out with soap. ALOT.) #2, this dish is probably not for you.
Other than that, this is so super amazingly flavorful and very easy to throw together. In fact, I literally threw it together yesterday afternoon, in between meetings (I had 15-minutes to spare and a sudden panic moment that I hadn’t thought about prepping for dinner).
Hopefully you have this stuff on hand (like any good foodie), but if not don’t be afraid to substitute with what you have, you just can’t call it “cilantro lime chicken thighs” if none of those ingredients are in your actual recipe!
- 1 cup of chopped Cilantro (duh)
- 2-3 Fresh Limes (juice and zest) (also duh, and please don’t sub with prepackaged lime juice. That’s just insulting)
- 6-8 cloves of fresh, crushed and chopped garlic (if you are like me, throw in a few extra for good measure)
- 2 TBSP of good chili powder (or whatever you have)
- 1 TBSP fresh pepper
- 1-2 TBSP of flaked sea salt (less if you have salt issues and a little more if you know how awesome this can be with a marinade!)
- 1 TSP of Cumin (you can add a little more if you have a taste for cumin, but not more than 2 TSP or it throws the alchemy off)
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 2 TBSP Honey
- 3-4 Lbs of boneless skinless chicken thighs (I go to Sam’s Club because they always have very good quality at a great price)
First you want to mix all of the ingredients together, EXCEPT the Chicken thighs. Basically you are going to make a marinade for the chicken. Reserve about 1/3 of a cup of the marinade for later (I forgot this step last night and thought it would have been a great finishing sauce).
Once you have your marinade you can either use a large zip lock bag or do what I did, and grab a large bowl with a lid. Now the fun part, smoother your thighs (the chicken you heathen!) with the marinade and let this sit in the fridge for at least 15-minutes but up to 24-hours. I had about 4-hours before I needed to cook.
When you are ready to cook (and only when YOU are ready…and maybe after a glass of wine, or two), whip out your huge, your biggest frying pan. Also, walk over to your oven right now and preheat to 350 degrees. Now, add a little olive oil to your pan and kick it up to high. Wait for about five minutes (it needs to be hot) and then sear your chicken on both sides. Do this in batches, if you have to. The chicken needs a little room to breath and seal in those juices. After about 2-minutes on each side (a little less if they seem to be cooking through too quickly), move them to a baking sheet with sides (like a cookie sheet, but make sure it has those sides). Then throw this in the oven at 350 for at least 30-minutes. Turn the oven off after 30-minutes and let the chicken sit for 10-more minutes.
Voila! That’s it…You’re done!
You could take this to the next level and prepare rice, while the chicken is baking. I did and it was awesome. I used the drippings from the chicken searing pan to add to the boiling rice. And honestly, it was beyond awesome. Oh and, if you are doing this a la European style, then remember to make a simple salad and eat it last! And last but not least, do not forget the wine for goodness sake!
For a wine pairing suggestion, You could go with a Pinot Noir. I know it’s red but the chili spice in the marinade gives a slight smoke/BBQ type of flavor that is definitely enhanced with a decent Pinot Noir. You could also go white with a Pinot Grigio. Or hell, bust out your favorite box wine. It’s all good!