Make Ahead

Herbed Chicken Thighs Roasted in a Paper Bag

June 21, 2011
1 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

This is a great do-ahead dish because it must be marinated to tenderize the thighs and is equally delicious served hot over steamed rice or cold alongside roasted new potato salad with a simply whirled lemon zest and juice, olive oil and garlic vinaigrette until emulsified. Pack it and place in your picnic basket, do not forget a bottle of Pinot Noir.
I like to roast poultry or meats in a brown paper bag because it keeps the juices and in the same time allows the chicken thighs brown evenly. - Kukla —Kukla

Test Kitchen Notes

Have you ever come across an unusual, almost whacky method for preparing an ordinary ingredient, then asked yourself, “Why isn’t it always done this way?” That was exactly my reaction when I made this. Chicken thighs are marinated in the time-honored combination of fresh herbs (lots of them), olive oil, wine vinegar and seasonings. You put wine in the baking dish, then put the whole thing in a paper bag and then into the oven. The wine and marinade duo create a luxuriously fragrant sauna in which the chicken is sort of roasted, yet sort of steamed, to produce some of the best tasting chicken you’ll ever eat. It’s tender, it’s juicy and it’s so easy to make. A truly outstanding recipe! - AntoniaJames —AntoniaJames

What You'll Need
  • • 8 large free ranch chicken thighs
  • • 6 garlic cloves
  • • 3/4 cup mixed fresh herb leaves (such as thyme, sage, rosemary)
  • • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • • 2 tablespoons fine red wine vinegar
  • • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • • 1/2 cup good dry white wine for the baking dish
  1. Finely chop garlic and herbs in food processor; then blend in oil and vinegar, salt and peppers. Place chicken thighs in a baking dish.
  2. Spread herb and seasoning mixture over all sides of chicken. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
  3. Get out the baking dish with chicken thighs from refrigerator. Pour 1/2 cup of good quality dry white wine into the bottom of the baking dish.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the baking dish with chicken thighs inside of a large brown bag and transfer to the middle rack of the oven.
  5. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes until golden brown. Transfer thighs to a large platter, pour the accumulated jus into a small sauce pan and simmer until reduced to sauce consistency.
  6. With a pastry brush smear the sauce over the chicken thighs. Let cool and absorb the sauce.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin
  • Angel McCauley
    Angel McCauley
  • Cassandra Brecht
    Cassandra Brecht
  • James Curtis
    James Curtis
  • Kinda Sorta Maybe
    Kinda Sorta Maybe

101 Reviews

LeBec F. February 29, 2016
antonia james, your description of this dish is such a beautifully articulate and convincing piece of writing. so many of us will fortunately rejoice in Kukla because of your words!
Angel M. December 29, 2015
You want to keep chicken moist not a problem with dark meat but the white meat is a problem the best way to keep white chicken meat namely breast moist it to use a dry brine on the meat before cooking which is real simple and easy to make and do. all you need is 1/3 cup salt and 1 tablespoon sugar first clean the chicken breast under cold water and pat dry next mix salt and sugar and rub all over breast then place in frig uncovered for at least 8 hours ding remove from frig and rinse thoroughly under cold water next take 1/2 cup softened butter and mix in all your favorite herbs and spices and rub mix all over breast place in baking dish and cook uncovered @ 350 for 1 hour 15 minutes basting every 15 minutes cook until internal temp is 160 to 165 degrees F
Angel M. December 29, 2015
I found that 1 tablespoon of salt is a bit to much I made this today and boy did it come out salty. If I should make this again I will only use 1 teaspoon of salt and I will also change the amount of pepper from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of pepper also I will not use rosemary the next time if I should make this again I'm not a big fan of rosemary never have been, Every time I use rosemary with other herbs the rosemary drawns out the flavor of the other herbs and spices. As of right now on a scale of 0 to 5, 5 being outstanding I would only be giving this recipe a 1.5 and that is because of the salt a tablespoon make the chicken way to salty.
Cassandra B. December 10, 2015
After reading the reviews for this dish, I believe I would just use a cast iron pot with a heavy lid and then place parchment paper beneath the lid. I've done this before, and it creates a similar "sauna." I agree cooking with potentially toxin-laden paper bags is not worth the risk.
James C. November 29, 2015
i have found wax paper works great also
MenCanCook November 29, 2015
Wait! Did you just suggest cooking with wax paper???
Angel M. December 29, 2015
wax paper and oven don't mix reason being wax paper is highly flammable
Kinda S. January 4, 2015
I hope you read this, brown bag cooking was very popular in the 70's but people were warned to stop cooking in them because of the pesticides within the wood used for bags. Here most of the natural grocery stores will bag in paper bags, and even in all stores you can find the lunch sacks, but they are all toxic.
Kukla December 29, 2014
You guys and girls amaze me!!! You do not need to look for some kind of fancy paper. Whole Foods or Trader Joes brown bag will do the job perfectly; just take of the handles from the bag and turn it in such way that the words on the bag are under the bottom of your baking dish.
People are roasting meat and poultry, baking fruit or berry pies in brown bags for a long, long time and love this method. The paper in brown bags keeps the juices and browns evenly everything you make in them, and most of all it is 100% harmless to your health.
Carol H. December 29, 2014
Must be an American thing. I am in Canada and I haven't seen brown bags for groceries since I was a kid and the only ones you can buy are really small, for putting mushrooms in.
SharonKay December 29, 2014
Thanks, Robert! Apparently I've been out of the loop on this method so am looking forward to trying it!
Carol H. December 29, 2014
Where do you find craft paper? They certainly don't sell it in any groceries where I live.
Robert December 29, 2014
A roll of craft paper from which most paper bags are made seems to me a cheap solution to un-inked paper bags.
Comes in 12"-48" sizes on the rolls and up to appx. 500 ft long.
Many are about 100-250' length.
Robert December 29, 2014
Fold on edges of a length and then the top opening as well.
Staple for regular ovens, or even use a paper clip. (large)
Robert December 29, 2014
This 'bag' confines the moisture a lot and that aids the fowl to stay moister.
Robert December 29, 2014
Shipping supply stores sell craft paper in rolls. Go online to ask if such is in your area. packages of craft paper are likely sold on Hobby and Craft stores as well.
Also, dressmaker supplies might carry craft paper in sheets or rolls as they make a great reusable pattern.
Robert December 29, 2014
Just found a lot of listed sources for Kraft paper, craft paper online.
Robert December 29, 2014
Look also for Butcher paper, same thing
And, food safe for use. I have a roll of it now that came as a 250' roll that is 36" wide.

SharonKay December 29, 2014
Hi ... one of the rare times I'm more confused after reading the comments! :) (1) suggestions please on where I can find paper bags without ink - all mine have store logos and (2) if I can't find bags without ink, am I correct that I can use just parchment? Thanks!
MenCanCook December 29, 2014
My suggestion would be to got straight to the aluminum foil/parchment combination... Either one or the other will work fine. I'm partial to the parchment, but that's just me.
I'm reading all these in awe and amazement at the longevity of the 'questions/comments' about this matter 3-4 years down the road. Kukla is a great cook and I haven't known her to intentionally or UNintentionally harm anyone with her recipes... Nuff said.
Kukla December 29, 2014
Thank you MenCanCook for your kind words!!!
Cindy M. April 11, 2014
I like this site! I had more fun laughing while reading the qusetions and answers! BUT, must admit.... am confused about whether the bag aids in making the chicken moist or crispy.
Kukla April 12, 2014
Hey Cindy!
The best way to find out about the things you are confused is to try this recipe yourself and then decide whether this method satisfies your taste.
LeBec F. April 12, 2014
cindy, the fun thing is that it does both!
Robert April 7, 2014
An Old Indian (Native American) way to cook fish is to make a snowshoe shaped racket and place the fish in a butterfly style or fillets on it. Then place other Willow green shoots ( or Apple?) to hold them fast in a across pattern, This can then be cooked over a bbq or open fire as well; I see NO reasons it could not be done in an oven as well. What say you good cooks?
Robert December 29, 2014
I did this on a National Guard training where I caught 5 large trout; then I sat in front of the other guys that had fishing gear and would not share it to cook 'my' fish. Ate all 5 by myself too ! lol
I used willow branches I cut and bound the long tail with willow bark strips. same for the cross pieces.
nllawn April 5, 2014
I'm sorry if this was answered, but is the lid on the baking dish inside the paper bag?
Kukla April 6, 2014
You don't need a lid when roasting in a brown paper bag nllawn
keno April 4, 2014
I have to ask again - is the baking dish covered inside the paper bag ?
Kukla April 4, 2014
Yes keno, the paper bag should be inside the paper bag.
Kukla April 6, 2014
I am sorry keno for the typo! You shouldn't cover the baking dish, just place it inside the paper bag.
mark April 4, 2014
left over wine from the night before ? how does that happen, we will sacrifice a 1/2 cup of a new bottle . . . any difference in taste say a reisling vs an oaked chardonnay ?
jay S. April 4, 2014
That is a good question; I thought the same thing!I hope the editor can answer that question.
Karen Z. April 4, 2014
Can you put a paper bag in a gas oven without it catching on fire???
Kukla April 4, 2014
Yes you can.
Robert April 4, 2014
Put it in a metal container where it will Not have moving air perhaps?
Robert April 4, 2014
Aluminum foil?
Kukla April 4, 2014
Parchment paper and than foil.
Karen Z. April 4, 2014
OK, now I'm really confused using the gas oven. Paper bag, metal container, aluminum foil, parchment paper?? Which one will work best and how do I do it?
Karen Z. April 4, 2014
It would be a shame not to cook a wonderful recipe because I fear burning the house down.
Kukla April 4, 2014
The best thing is to read the recipe as many times as you need to understand it and follow each step correctly.
stevecoh1 June 8, 2014
Remember Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451"? That's the temperature at which paper catches fire. See, which gives a range of 424-475. So at 350 we shoiuld be okay.
Mariya April 4, 2014
To the editor: correct "at list" to "at least" at step 2!!!!
jay S. April 4, 2014
Kukla, I hope i am understand the recipe correctly. I put the thighs and the bake dish in a papaer bag or do i place the baking dish on the bottom rake and the thighs above the rake. thank you for your anwser
Kukla April 4, 2014
Jay, you need a clean brown grocery bag without any ink and large enough to completely hide the baking dish and you place it on the middle rack.