Do you remember the first thing you cooked for the love of your life? You might have been a jangle of nerves, hoping to impress with your culinary skills. You may have deliberated for days, wondering if you should attempt something exotic and extravagant, or instead, play it safe and go for the tried and true. Sometime back in November, 2004, I decided that new love was exciting and risky enough so I opted to prepare this dish for James. It must have worked, because here we are six years later!
This chicken is really simple, and you can roast the accompanying vegetables right along with it in the same dish. The goat cheese pillows beneath the skin, allowing it to bake to a crackly crisp while keeping the meat moist. The herb-y drippings from the roasting chicken also flavor the carrots and parsnips. Win win situation!
It’s possible that beanie-weenies would have sufficed for the first home-cooked meal with James…we will never know. However, Goat Cheese Chicken still tastes like a plate of love to me!
- 6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin-on
- 1 4 oz log of fresh goat cheese
- 1/2 t dried thyme*
- 1/2 t dried sage, crumbled*
- dash granulated garlic or garlic powder (or 1 t minced fresh garlic)
- dash ground coriander
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into uniform pieces
- 3 parsnips, peeled and cut into uniform pieces
* If fresh herbs are available, by all means use those (double the amount). Other herbs mixtures will also work…rosemary works particularly well. Use what you like!
Preheat the oven to 375F. In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese with the herbs and seasonings.
Place chicken thighs in a large enough baking dish to accommodate the chicken and around 2 cups of vegetables. Using your fingers, loosen the skin from one side of the chicken to form a pocket for the goat cheese mixture. Try to keep the skin connected to the thigh on the other sides as much as possible, but don’t fret about it if it comes loose. Place a heaping tablespoon of the goat cheese mixture under the skin of each thigh, then press down gently on top of the skin to distribute the goat cheese over the thigh. If there’s any extra goat cheese, don’t hesitate to put more on each thigh. Season the thighs with kosher salt and pepper. Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the carrots and parsnips. When cutting up large parsnips, I remove the tough core from the biggest pieces using the sharp edges of a vegetable peeler. Cut into relatively uniform-size pieces so they will cook evenly.
After the chicken has cooked for about 20 minutes, remove from oven. Spoon off some of the excess fat, if needed, but leave some for cooking the vegetables. Scatter the carrots and parsnips around the edge of the pan, mixing well with the juices from the chicken. [You may find it easier to carefully remove the chicken from the pan temporarily, taking care not to dislodge the goat cheese, so that you can toss the vegetables in the pan juices to coat more thoroughly.] Raise the oven temperature to 400F, and return dish to oven.
Bake for another 20-25 minutes, turning the vegetables occasionally, until the carrots and parsnips are tender and getting browned around the edges. The chicken should be done and the skin crispy and brown.
Yes, what a magical first dinner that was! Every time we have this recipe I smile…what more can you get from food? So a special meal requires a special soundtrack, so its house fav Emmylou, with her landmark Luxury Liner album. A few Gram Parson numbers, an incredible band featuring Albert Lee, Ricky Skaggs, Rodney Crowell and more add up to a wonderful, timeless record.