Two things inspired me to cook this one-pan chicken thigh dish … paella and being sick and tired of washing tons of dishes! Similar to paella, this dish is cooked in one pan with rice, broth, protein, and veggies. I love how all the flavors combine in the pan and absorb into the rice - making a delicious and well-rounded meal.
Why cook with chicken thighs?
Because I love dark meat. I remember when my husband and I first started dating, he invited me over for dinner - the first meal he ever cooked for me. I was super excited to see what he was going to make, but when I came over and saw that he cooked a meal with chicken breast, I was pretty disappointed! It’s hard to cook chicken breast well - and underestimating my husband’s culinary abilities at that time - I was expecting to eat some really drrrryyyy meat. To my surprise, he cooked the chicken perfectly and all was good! That was the last time he cooked chicken breast for me after realizing how much I dislike dry poultry.
I only cook dark meat unless I have to make something with a whole chicken. Some people love white meat, but for me, dark meat is the way to go because it is more juicy and flavorful. It’s also much more forgiving when cooking as it does not dry out as easily. Some even say dark meat has a bad rep, that it’s not as “healthy” as its white counterpart - but it’s actually not as bad as people think. There’s much to debate on which is healthier, but that’s a discussion for another post!
My one pan chicken thigh recipe is so flavorful with all the juices combined in the rice. It makes for the perfect comfort food. The chicken is tender and juicy, and the brown rice adds a heartiness to the meal with its nutty taste and firmer texture. Finally, the lemon adds a brightness and nice acidity to the dish, balancing out the flavors. Is your mouth watering yet? Follow my recipe and tips below on how to create this one-pan wonder!
Tips for cooking one-pan chicken thighs:
- Make sure the chicken cooks for at least 20-25 minutes (for medium-sized chicken thighs) in a covered pan.
- Rinsing rice adds additional water to it, make sure to strain and shake as much water out as possible. To avoid overly mushy rice, dry it out a bit by sautéing the rice in the pan for 1-2 minutes.
- Cut the rinds off the lemon and deseed it before adding to the pan. The rind tends to make the dish taste bitter.
One Pan Chicken Thighs with Brown Rice
- Cast Iron Skillet
- 1.5 lbs chicken thighs or 4-5 medium-size chicken thighs
- 1 cup uncooked brown rice I use organic brown rice medley from Trader Joe's
- 2 ¼ cups chicken stock I use low sodium organic chicken broth
- 8 oz sliced mushrooms
- 1 medium sliced shallot
- 2 medium size minced garlic
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 sliced lemon cut rind off and deseed
- 1 bunch of chopped spinach
- chopped cilantro optional for garnish
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Dry chicken with paper towel and season both sides with salt, pepper and thyme.
- Heat cast iron skillet on high. When skillet is hot, add chicken thighs, skin side down first. Sear chicken on high heat about 6 minutes on the skin side, then turn chicken and sear other side for 3-4 minutes.
- Meanwhile, rinse the brown rice with water and drain.
- Take the chicken out and place on a plate. There will be oil in the pan from the chicken, use the oil to sauté the shallot and garlic.
- Add shallots and sauté on high heat about 30 seconds. Then add garlic, saute until garlic is fragrant and lightly browned, about 30 seconds.
- Add rice to the pan and saute for 1-2 minutes until rice is slightly dry. Then add the mushrooms.
- Add the chicken broth then layer the lemon slices on top of the rice. Layer the chicken (skin side up) over the rice, mushrooms and lemon.
- Take the skillet to a boil on the stove top then turn of the fire. Carefully remove the skillet with mittens and place it in the oven to roast for 40 minutes.
- Once the dish is done cooking, make sure to use a meat thermometer to check the thickest chicken piece registers to at least 165 degrees F. If not, roast for an additional 5 minutes until chicken is done cooking.
- Add spinach after the chicken is done. Garnish with cilantro optional.