Is there anything better than coming home and making something tasty for dinner after a few days on the road for work? I had a whirlwind two-city trip over three days last week, going to focus groups in Atlanta and Chicago with barely any time to realize where I was each day since I was sequestered in the dark back rooms of each facility. I was able to get out and about a bit during a three-hour break in the afternoon while in Chicago, giving me enough time to run a few errands and get some fresh air and sunshine before going back into the darkness for the rest of the day and evening.
Since I was coming home in the afternoon on Wednesday, I offered to cook since it was Michael’s normal gym day anyway, and so I took to a recipe that I haven’t made in ages because I was convinced it would take too long to make after a normal day’s commute: pesto-rubbed chicken thighs. Unlike the last time I featured them on this blog, I used boneless thighs rather than bone-in, skin on ones and I realized that as long as I made the pesto ahead of time (or hell, assembled the whole dish and stored it in the oven the night before) this was actually a very easy dish to make relatively quickly. As with anything else, all it needs is some proper planning.
Initially, I was going to go the grilled chicken route and get a big bunch of basil to toss into the finished thighs, but my produce guy was completely out by the time I got to his stand at Cross Street. I had seen a recipe for parsley-sage pesto online, and realized that it would work well here. Our sage plants have been growing like gangbusters ever since I brought them home back in May, and one thing I’ve been looking forward to is incorporating them into all kinds of autumnal dishes, from veal saltimbocca to pork cutlets with fried sage and even pesto. Since Michael isn’t the biggest fan of raw sage in anything, baking the thighs in the oven with the pesto slathered all over them seemed like a great idea, and–spoiler alert–it was. The garlic was mellowed out by its time in the oven, and while I didn’t use any cheese, the next time I may give that a whirl to see how that affects the flavor.
Paired with a simple salad, this is a great weeknight dish for this time of year, and using the boneless thighs really helps in speeding along the cooking process. The oregano pesto I wrote about a few years ago also works really well in this application, but I would imagine that the delicacy of basil would be lost after being cooked for so long, so stick to heartier herbs in general for this sauce.
Parsley-Sage Pesto-Rubbed Chicken Thighs
Serves 4-6, or 2 with adequate leftovers for lunch
For the chicken:
- 3.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
For the pesto:
- 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
- 1 cup fresh sage leaves
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- Kosher salt to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the chicken thighs into glass baking dishes and season well on both sides with salt and pepper. Make the pesto: Combine the herbs, garlic, and salt into a food processor or into a container for an immersion blender and blitz, adding in olive oil as needed to help turn it into a sauce. Place sauce over chicken thighs, using a brush to evenly coat each piece of chicken.
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until they read 165 degrees by a digital thermometer. Let rest for about five minutes before serving, and then enjoy.