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.
- Yield:serves 4 to 6
- Active time: 15 minutes
- Total time:45 minutes to 1 hour
- 10 boneless chicken thighs, skin on
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
- 6 tablespoons freshly ground star anise
- 1 Meyer lemon, quartered
Adjust the oven rack to the lower-third position, and preheat to 400°F. Meanwhile, cover a large baking sheet with foil. Add the chicken pieces and the oil, and toss until each chicken piece is coated in the oil. Spread the pieces out in a single layer, skin-side down. Season the tops with salt, pepper, and half of the star anise. Flip the chicken pieces so they are now skin-side up, and once again season with salt, pepper, and the remaining ground star anise.
Scatter the quartered lemon pieces around the baking sheet. Transfer baking sheet to the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Flip the pieces and continue to cook the chicken until it is well browned but not black, about 20 minutes. Remove if done. The recipe claimed that you could continue cooking for another 20 minutes, but I'd check the chicken often to make sure it doesn't burn.
When done, serve the chicken thighs with a squeeze of the roasted Meyer lemons. Some roasted potatoes would be a great side.