Cast Iron

Crispy Chicken Thighs With Kale & Croutons

June 11, 2018
Photo by Rocky Luten
Author Notes

My take on Canal House’s Genius chicken thighs. Torn bread pieces crisp up in schmaltz, followed by a boatload of shiny Tuscan kale. My favorite way to break down the bread: Cut into thick slices, then tear by hand. —Emma Laperruque

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: Legendary, Crispy-as-Heck Chicken Thighs We'd Want for Dinner Any Night —The Editors

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 3
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 pinches freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 cups chopped Tuscan kale (about 10 ounces)
  • 3 cups torn bread chunks (about 6 ounces)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 lemon, juice of
In This Recipe
  1. Add the olive oil to a large, heavy skillet, preferably cast-iron. Set over medium heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Add them to the skillet, skin side down. Cook like this, without moving, until the fat has rendered and the skin is deeply golden brown and crispy, 15 to 30 minutes. Fiddle with the heat, reducing to medium-low if the skin begins to burn before it gets evenly golden brown.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water—figure about 4 quarts—to a boil. Add roughly 2 to 4 tablespoons of salt, depending on your seasoning preference. Add the kale and cook for about 2 minutes until tender. Drain into a colander. Don’t worry about squeezing out any extra water—we’ll want that moisture later.
  3. Turn the thighs over and continue cooking until the other side is deeply golden brown and the meat closest to the bone is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes more.
  4. When done, transfer the chicken thighs to a plate, leaving all the fat in the pan. Immediately add the bread to the pan. Toss in the fat and spread into an even layer. Now leave alone until golden-brown and toasty. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and toss. Let toast for a minute, then add the kale and toss. Cook for 5 or so minutes, until everyone is hot and happy. Squeeze lemon juice on top. Season with salt to taste.
  5. Nestle the chicken thighs back in the pan. Serve immediately.

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Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.