Spiced Orange Brined Chicken Thighs in a Slow Cooker

3 Mar

As much as I am a huge fan of a whole roasted chicken, I am equally enamored of chicken thighs.  Though a whole roasted chicken is almost criminally easy, when you own a slow cooker, chicken thighs are even easier.  Though my schedule has finally died down now that my moot court competition is over, it’s still nice to come home to dinner that is basically done.  Most of this recipe can be done the day before.  I marinated the chicken thighs overnight and then quickly seared them off while boiling the brining liquid as my coffee brewed in the morning.

After a day of slow cooking in the marinating liquid, this chicken was tender and falling off the bone.  The meat was very flavorful, and the skin was sticky and sweet.  Just look at the deep caramelization of that chicken skin.  Mmmm.  Served with some fluffy white rice, this was a delicious and hearty meal with hours of slow cooked flavor but very little work involved.

Spiced Orange Brined Chicken Thighs in a Slow Cooker

2 chicken thighs

2 cups water

1 orange, zested and quartered

2 whole cloves

1 tbs. whole black peppercorns

1 tbs. kosher salt

1 tbs. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/4 tsp. ground cardamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Small pinch ground mace

1/2 cup orange juice (preferably with pulp)

1 tbs. butter

1 scallion, dark green parts only, for garnish

Bring water to a boil in a small sauce pan.  Whisk in salt, sugar, and spices.  Add orange zest, orange quarters, and orange juice.  Let cool to room temperature, placing in the refrigerator if necessary.  Transfer marinade and chicken thighs to a large zip lock bag.

Let brine 6-8 hours in refrigerator.

Remove chicken thighs and transfer brine to a small sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and boil, covered, 2-3 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium sauté pan.  Add chicken, skin side down down, and cook 3-4 minutes until golden brown.

Transfer all ingredients to a slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours.

Remove chicken from the slow cooker and serve with a few spoonfuls of the braising liquid, garnished with scallions.

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