The 2020 holiday season is definitely going to feel different this year, and maybe we’ll be spending it with fewer people than usual — or even alone. This meal is one that I consider a “Celebration” meal, but it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to pull it together. The Perfectly Seared Chicken Thighs with Onions & Spicy Gremolata have a beautifully crisp skin and rich sauce, while the Collard Greens are smoky and flavorful in no time at all. I like to add a roasted sweet potato to the plate (and, yes, you can even microwave it!) that tastes even more special when drizzled with a little melted butter and brown sugar and popped under the broiler for a minute or two!
When I said that this meal doesn’t take a lot of time, I’m not kidding: I can pull it together in about 45 minutes, and the greens are mostly hands-off anyway. You can easily scale the greens back to a smaller portion, but I love to make a batch and freeze it for future meals when I need a quick vegetable side.
But most of all, sometimes we have to remember to treat ourselves in whatever way we can — for me, this is a meal filled with memories of my family’s traditions, so even if we can’t all be at the table together in person, we are still connected across the miles.
Perfectly Seared Chicken Thighs with Onions & Spicy Gremolata
Makes 4 servings
6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 1/4 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large white onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups flat leaf parsley (packed), finely chopped
2 sprigs thyme, leaves only, finely chopped
1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
3 sage leaves, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tablespoons lemon zest, finely grated
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flake
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
Prepare spicy gremolata: In a medium bowl, add the parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, garlic, lemon zest, crushed red pepper flakes, Kosher salt and mix to combine. Stir in olive oil. Set aside.
Place the chicken thighs skin-side down on a clean cutting board and, using a sharp boning knife, cut along either side of the bone to loosen it, but still leaving the bone attached to the thigh. Flip the thighs over and rub the spicy gremolata under the skin of each chicken thigh. Season the opposite side with salt and pepper.
Heat a 12″ nonstick skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Nestle chicken in skillet, skin side down, and cook for two minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high; continue cooking skin side down, occasionally rearranging chicken thighs and rotating pan to evenly distribute heat, until fat renders and skin is crispy and golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.
Turn the thighs over and sear for two minutes, then remove from pan. Reduce heat to medium; add the sliced onions and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to become translucent and softened. Add the garlic cloves and cook for another few minutes, until they begin to soften, then stir in the stock. Nestle the chicken thighs, skin-side up, back in the pan and continue cooking for another 6-8 minutes, until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly and the chicken registers 165°F with a meat thermometer.
Allow to rest for five minutes. Sprinkle gremolata over chicken and serve immediately.
Collard Greens braised in Smoked Paprika Pot Likker
½ cup olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
1/2 cup cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
5 pounds collard greens
1½ tablespoons Kosher salt
For the Potlikker: In a large pot, sauté onions until translucent, then add garlic and red pepper flakes. Season with salt. Cook for another 2 minutes. Add smoked paprika and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add vinegar and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to simmer for at least 20 minutes. NOTE: This may be made at least 1 week in advance.
Meanwhile, prepare the greens by stacking one bunch of greens at a time like cards; roll the stack tightly into a cigar shape; cut the greens lengthwise ¾ of the way down (keeping the stems and base of the greens intact); then cut into 1/4-inch wide pieces. Wash the greens. NOTE: No need to spin dry.
Add the sliced greens to the pot and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more liquid, if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.
The cooked collard greens will freeze well for up to three months — I like to portion them in quart-sized plastic freezer bags or containers and then heat them up in the microwave whenever I need a side of vegetables for dinner!