How to Make Blackened Chicken

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Start to Finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

Difficulty: Beginner

Blackening traditionally refers to a cooking technique where meats are crusted with spice and then cooked over high heat, producing a black-brown, spicy exterior. However, blackening now more commonly refers to the spice mix. This blackened chicken recipe uses both the cooking technique and the spice blend, both of which are adapted from recipes by serious eats and the kitchn.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter, unsalted
  • 4 pieces of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne peppers
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground white pepper
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions

In a small nonstick pan, heat the butter on medium heat until it is just melted. Set the melted butter aside and let it cool.

Place the chicken thighs between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap. Pound them with a meat tenderizer until they are a uniform thickness, around 1/2 inch thick.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the spices and 1 teaspoon of salt. Adjust the amount of black pepper used depending on how spicy you would like your chicken.

Sprinkle the tenderized pieces of chicken with the remaining salt, rubbing it in to evenly distribute. Heat a large cast iron skillet on high heat.

Add the vegetable oil to the cast iron-skillet, and heat until it is shimmering and very hot.

Toss the salted, pounded chicken pieces with the melted butter and 2 tablespoons of oil, coating them evenly. Dip the chicken pieces in the spice mix, coating all sides evenly.

Tip

  • Try to get as much of the spice to adhere to the chicken as possible -- you want a thick crust.

Place the pieces in the skillet, patting them so that they lie flat in the pan. Lower the heat to medium and cook for two to three minutes, until the bottom has a hard crust.

Tip

  • If your pan is not large enough to hold the chicken all at once, cook the chicken in batches, heating the pan till it is very hot between each piece. Crowding the pan can lead to a poor sear, which means the chicken will not crust.

Flip the pieces over with tongs, and cook the other side for three to five minutes, until the chicken is done and a hard crust develops. Serve the chicken immediately, while it is still hot.

Additional Tips

Pounding the chicken to a uniform thickness means the pieces cook more evenly. The flatter surface helps the chicken develop a strong crust.

Blackened chicken can also be cooked on the grill or broiled. High-heat cooking methods work best, as they let the chicken develop a crust of spices during cooking.

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