Welp. Well, I guess it’s really fall, even if the temperatures have crept close to the 70s a few days ago, and threaten to do so later this week. You know how I know this? The darkness has been making a hasty return sooner and sooner every day, and as someone who lives in the Northeast and prefers taking pictures of my food in natural light, I hate it. So please bear with me as I once again readjust to the awful artificial light in our apartment. Clearly, I will never take this transition well.
One of the few bright spots about this transition to colder weather is feeling the need to take the shears to my pots of herbs while they are still lush and vibrant. My oregano plant has been left to its own devices all season and has gotten positively unruly; because it’s considered to be really strong in taste, the only amount I’ve needed to use are a few sprigs here and there in recipes all summer. I despaired of finding a proper way to dispatch of it until I found this lovely pesto recipe from Saveur, which called for one and a half cups of packed oregano leaves and only half a cup of basil leaves. A little more than a week ago I trimmed back my plant to make the sauce to pour over pasta, and the results were not only really satisfying, but this pesto felt more autumnal compared to the ones I’ve been making all summer.
Having more than enough leaves left for at least one more go, I decided to make it once again, only this time to coat some chicken thighs. It was inspired by a recipe offered in Saveur, but instead of using the suggested pesto Genovese and making a summery panzanella, I figured the oregano pesto with my favorite wintertime salad would be more seasonally appropriate.
This would have been perfect if I had not forgotten to do one crucial thing: season both sides of the thighs.
It’s a rookie mistake, one that I should have avoided thanks to watching several old episodes of Emeril Live! in which Emeril reminds us that we taste both sides of a piece of meat, so we should season them accordingly. But I thought the pesto would be enough during the roasting process, because the sauce would baste the thighs and hopefully coat them with its well-seasoned glory. Nope. No no no no. Always season the meat: maybe not as heavily as you normally would, but always season the freaking meat. It makes even the blandest, least-exciting dish more enjoyable.
If only I could only throw some salt and pepper at the early night sky to make it more palatable.
Oregano Pesto Chicken Thighs
Adapted from Saveur
- One batch oregano pesto, recipe here
- 3 lbs chicken thighs, skins left on
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Arugula salad with pomegranates and oranges to serve alongside
Heat oven to 475 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, and place chicken thighs in the pan, skin-side down. Season well with salt and pepper, and then turn over. Loosen the skin with your fingers, and then use about 3/4 of the pesto to stuff under the skin. Wash hands, and then season the top of the skin well with salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes, then open and brush the chicken with the rest of the pesto. Continue cooking for about another 5 minutes at most, and then remove from oven and let rest for 10-20 minutes.
Serve with salad and enjoy when cool enough to hold.