I have a strange infatuation with star anise, so I was sold on this recipe from The Breakaway Cook from the very beginning. But my enthusiasm only strengthened when I realized it'd be served with Meyer lemons, which are roasted on the same baking sheet as the chicken. I could just smell the fragrant chicken pieces before ever walking into the kitchen.
But this recipe is a little stranger than I expected. It's actually hard to say whether I'd recommend it or not. The chicken turned out spectacularly fragrant and crispy, but it wasn't easy to get there.
The issue comes down to the time. At 400°F, chicken thighs only need 15 to 20 minutes to cook, and yet this recipe advised an hour. How could that be right? I decided to do a little test. After 20 minutes I removed one of the thighs and examined it. While very good, none of the flavors quite popped. I waited another 20 minutes, and the change was dramatic. The piece I looked at was crispy and caramelized, with a wonderfully crunchy crust. At an hour, however the lemon and the star anise started to burn—not good.
So, proceed with caution. Think of this sort of like an experiment and you won't be disappointed. Just make sure to continuously check the progress.