My favorite chicken dinner
Simple baked chicken was a staple in my home growing up, due to its ease and simplicity. Ease and simplicity, however, can sometimes translate to boring. These Five Spice Baked Chicken Thighs boast globe-trotting fusion flavor but are easy and simple enough for weeknight meals.
When I make this orange pesto, I always double the batch. I love this pesto with sweet potato fries, or served with other meats or veggies. The pesto also freezes well.
About the ingredients in Five Spice Chicken Thighs with Orange Pesto
Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are critical, as skinless chicken thighs or breasts will fail here. The baking method creates a divinely crispy skin on the chicken, and using thighs ensures a moist result instead of dried-out chicken.
Chinese Five spice powder is a blend of cinnamon, star anise, fennel, peppercorns and clove. A rich and warming spice blend, it works beautifully with meats as well as rice or quinoa. You can find it in grocery stores or it’s available here.
Herbamare is my go-to seasoning salt. It contains organic dried herbs and sea salt, and allows me to kick up the flavor in any dish without adding a lot of other herbs. It’s available here or at most well-stocked grocery stores.
Basil provides the base for the pesto, and I would not suggest substituting any other greens here. The basil pairs beautifully with the five spice powder.
Pistachios are my favorite in this pesto, but you could use another nut of your choice such as pine nuts or walnuts.
- Avocado oil, coconut oil, or ghee
- 3 - 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- About ½ tsp. five spice powder per chicken thigh, available here
- About ¼ tsp. Herbamare per chicken thigh, available here
- 2 packed cups basil
- Zest of ½ large orange
- 4 Tbs. orange juice (from half the orange)
- 2 Tbs. lemon juice (from one lemon)
- Big pinch of salt
- ½ garlic clove
- ⅓ cup pistachios or pine nuts
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400 and lightly grease an ovenproof saute pan or baking dish with your oil of choice.
- You can increase or reduce the number of chicken thighs to your needs, and I've listed the seasoning required per piece of chicken. No need to be precise with measurements, though, you can just eyeball it. Sprinkle each chicken thigh, top and bottom, with five spice powder and lightly with the Herbamare. Press the seasoning into the meat.
- Place the chicken thighs skin-up in the prepared pan -- there should be breathing room between each piece of chicken to allow proper browning.
- Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, until a thermometer inserted reads 160 degrees. Halfway through baking, turn the chicken over so get some of the rendered fat on the skin, and place the chicken once again skin up. This helps create a crispy skin.
- While the chicken is baking, prepare the pesto. Combine all ingredients and blend with an immersion blender.
- Serve the chicken with the pesto.
- This recipe makes as many chicken thighs as you want, and about ⅔ cup pesto.
Do you recommend only purchasing organic chicken? What are your thoughts on the quality of meat to choose?
Yes, I highly suggest organic if possible. This helps you avoid the inordinate amount of antibiotics fed to the chickens, and improves the fatty acid composition of the meat. Additionally, it is better for our planet, not to mention the wellbeing of the chickens.
Do you think that it could be fine if I’d use lemon instead of orange…? I don’t like orange, it always made me feel nauseated when I eat it so I eliminated from my diet almost two years ago, and I simply don’t miss it so I’m not interested to reintroduce it (also because it wasn’t my favourite fruit at all, I simply used to eat oranges when my mother bought a lot of them in season).
I don’t know if that would work, as the orange contributes some sweetness and it could be too acidic with just lemon juice in the pesto.
Would a meyer lemon work? It is a sweeter lemon with less acid.
Probably, good idea!
I don’t offer nutrition profiles on my recipes, but there are many free tools online you can use to find out.
It probably would, good idea.