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The Great Chicken Debate

Are you a breast man or a thigh man (or woman for that matter)? We’re talking about chicken of course.

For me, it’s thighs hands down. Thigh meat is juicier, more tender, more flavorful, and way, way cheaper. I recommend that everyone pass over the boneless, skinless chicken breasts which, at least at my supermarkets, can go for as much as $6 a pound if not on sale. Compare that to chicken thighs which you can usually buy for about $1 a pound, now that’s a bargin.

But what about the health side? We’re always told to avoid the ‘dark meat’ because it’s higher in fat, and not the good kind, the saturated fat. Yes, it’s true, chicken thighs are higher in saturated fat and calories — but really, only very slightly higher. Just compare.

1/4 pound (1 serving) of boneless, skinless chicken breast — 125 Cal (11% from Fat, 89% from Protein, 0% from Carb); 26 g Protein; 1 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 0 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; 74 mg Sodium; 66 mg Cholesterol.

1/4 pound (1 serving) of boneless, skinless chicken thighs — 135 Cal (31% from Fat, 69% from Protein, 0% from Carb); 22 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 0 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; 98 mg Sodium; 94 mg Cholesterol.

Now that we are in agreement about choosing thighs over breasts, let’s talk about brining.

Brining any meat will add flavor, tenderness and moisture. If you have never tried this technique before, you will be amazed at the results. To make a brine, simply boil 1 quart of water and add 1 cup kosher salt (no iodine please) and 3/4 cup sugar. When the salt and sugar have dissolved, remove liquid from heat and add ice and cold water to make 1 gallon, make sure the brine is COLD (under 40 degrees). Submerge 5 lbs chicken thighs in the brine and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Remove chicken from the brine and pat dry. Now you are ready to cook!

For the science behind brining and for more brine recipes, check out here.

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Chimichurri

Chimichurri is a sauce that originated in Argentina and is great with any grilled meats. This sauce has many variations so feel free to experiment with the ingredients to enhance the flavors you enjoy most.

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2 cups fresh Italian parsley (remove stems)
1 cup fresh cilantro (stems removed)
1.5 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 half head of garlic – peel the cloves
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Just throw all this into a food processor and blend up to a level of your own comfort. I like mine just a little chunky, but also love the fully emulsified sauce.

2. I use the Chimichurri as my grilling sauce, but also reserve some for the table, where you spoon it directly onto the finished grilled meat. Grill the chicken on medium heat for about 10minutes per side. Generously brush the chimichurri onto both sides of the chicken about 2 minutes before the chicken comes off the grill.

3. Lastly, I place the finished pieces on a sheet pan, cover with foil and place into a 250 degree oven for 20-30 minutes. This gives the bone-in pieces a little more time to loosen up and also allows me to move on to more time sensitive dishes for the grill such as vegetables.

4. Serve with cold beer, grilled vegetables and a salad.

by: Tim Kelly
Tim is co-owner and Head Chef at The Philadelphia Catering Company. We hope you enjoy his tried and true technique for the juiciest, tastiest chicken you'll have all summer. Let us know what you think, we'd love to hear from you!!
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