The Surprising Item You Can Use To Get Crispy Chicken Thighs

When it comes to chicken, the crispier, the better. Lately, boneless, skinless chicken breasts haven't been doing it for us. We simply don't have any time to waste on bland, rubbery white meat. Boiled chicken breasts with broccoli? No thank you. A healthy alternative to chicken tenders? Next. Recently, we don't think chicken has been getting the respect it deserves. Why should steak get to bask alone in its swanky, decadent glory, when chicken has just as much potential? We're officially ready to take this bird to the next level, which means taking advantage of its crispiest, juiciest parts, and cooking them to perfection.

While there are (of course) healthier ways to cook chicken, we have our sights set on bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Unlike the breast or the tender, the chicken thigh is complicated. It has lots of moving parts. This is, of course, what makes it special. The bone adds flavor to the meat, the skin transforms into a crispy, salty shell, sealing in the juices. Really, chicken thighs are a treat. And if we're going to stay home and cook them, we want them to taste like somebody else (A Michelin-starred chef, perhaps?) made them for us — which is to say, they should be rich, juicy, and crispy as humanly possible. And now we've discovered the secret, unexpected tool that will make your chicken crispier than ever (and no, we're not talking about baking powder).

First of all, you should have a skillet

Before we reveal our true secret, you should know we're cooking these chicken thighs in a skillet. A cast iron skillet is the best place to start if you want your chicken to crisp up without burning (and if you don't have a cast iron skillet, you should know that there are so many great uses for one, so it's absolutely worth the minimal investment). Much like the chicken thigh, the cast iron skillet is a gatekeeper of flavor. As long as it's well-seasoned (more on that here) using a cast iron skillet will hike up the crisp intensity of whatever you're cooking. Not to mention, it distributes heat more evenly than other skillets, so when cooking chicken thighs, you won't have to worry about one thigh burning while another stays raw.

As crucial as the cast iron is to many a cooking experience, it's not actually the "secret ingredient" that will elevate your chicken thighs to peak crispiness. For that, Allrecipes says you need a brick — you know, the thing a chimney is made out of.

Apparently, bricks are the ideal kitchen tool for crisping your bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs to perfection. Bricks can withstand high heat, so they're totally safe to use in the oven or on the grill. They're also the perfect size and shape for cooking chicken thighs. When placed on top of the chicken thigh, they'll distribute their weight evenly, pressing the skin into the skillet so it crisps up nicely.

Go find yourself a brick or two

First, you need to find some bricks. (If you are already lost, maybe call your dad and ask him where to find them.) Then wrap those bricks in tinfoil — according to Allrecipes, this keeps any brick sediment from getting into your food. (If you're using repurposed bricks from a garden, please clean them and give them a day or so to dry before wrapping in foil.) Season your chicken with salt and pepper, then oil up your skillet and place the thighs skin-side down. You can spruce the dish up here by nestling in some garlic, herbs, onions, or whatever other flavors you're in the mood for. Lastly, place a foil-wrapped brick or two on top of your chicken thighs.

Cook your chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 F. At this point, the skin should be golden brown and look as crispy as Justin Timberlake's hair circa 1997. You'll know the chicken is ready if you can remove it easily from the skillet with a spatula. If the chicken doesn't come off the skillet easily (in other words, if the skin is still sticking to the skillet), drop the spatula and back away. That chicken needs more time. Remember, this isn't your quick and easy boiled or baked chicken breast. This chicken is special. Give it the time it needs to reach its crispy, juicy potential. If your chicken is browning too quickly or the skin is burning, lower the heat.

Add the finishing touches

Once the skin on your chicken thighs is golden and the meat is cooked through, remove the bricks and transfer the chicken to a plate. Top it off with a sprinkle of salt and pepper (and a slab of butter because you deserve it, and so does the chicken). These crispy, delicious chicken thighs can go really well with garlic mashed potatoes, Ina Garten approved brussels sprouts, or even creamed spinach if you're trying to create a steakhouse vibe; but you could even eat them all by themselves — they're just that good.

As for where to store your new kitchen bricks, that's up to you (we'd suggest leaving them inside, to keep them safe from all the outdoor elements), but definitely hang on to them. Once you use this method to cook chicken thighs, we're guessing you'll never go back to your old ways. Plus, the bricks might come in handy for some other recipes, as well.