I love chicken in all forms. The whole bird, the legs, the wings, the neck, the breast, but especially thighs that are bone-in and skin-on. If you were to look in my fridge right now, you’d almost always find some chicken thighs in there ready to help me throw a hearty meal together with minimal effort.
Dig around a little more in my kitchen, and you’ll find the inspiration for this new recipe. Bag of peas lingering in the freezer? Everlasting head of cabbage in the back of my vegetable drawer? Let’s use those.
As a kid, I ate a lot of cabbage. My mother would make cabbage sabzi all the time, using many different combinations—sometimes peas, sometimes potatoes. She’d always offer a full array of dishes to go with it: roti, salad, rice, and dal. Me? I’m usually scrambling to make a single dish after work—it needs to be a full, satisfying meal in one pot.
So we start with chicken pieces, rubbed with a simple, fragrant, savory mixture of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garlic powder. The combination is a little toasty with a bright yellow color from the turmeric. Don’t worry, though, if you don’t have these exact spices on hand; the rub is flexible. Feel free to riff with a little paprika, some onion powder. You could make it with dried chipotle or curry powder too.
Then it all comes down to technique: I have learned over the years that if you want the perfect golden crispy skin on your chicken, you need to start with a cold pan. Add the chicken thighs skin side down and turn the heat to medium. As the pan warms, it will begin to render the fat and brown the skin—resist the urge to fuss with it! When the chicken is finished in the oven, the meat turns out incredibly juicy on the inside, with a perfectly crackly top.
As good as this chicken is, though, what we’re really here for is the cabbage, which sips up all the chicken drippings and becomes a lemony, mildly spiced wonder, slicked in chicken flavor and extra-delicious as leftovers. (Save some for a grain bowl or savory oatmeal and thank me later.)
You’ll finish with the peas. I’ll be honest, as a kid, I’d pick out the peas from my mom’s sabzi, because they’d cooked way too long, turning a dull, briny color. Here, I wanted them to stay their greenest self. Thawing frozen peas under cold water prevents them from developing a white ghost-like skin from temperature shock, and adding them just for the last five minutes of cooking keeps them tender, sweet, and vibrant-looking when you sit down to eat.Rachel Gurjar
Originally Appeared on Epicurious