What Makes Top Chef All-Star Tre Wilcox's Chicken Thigh Recipe Unique

Before "Top Chef" all-star Tre Wilcox became a celebrated chef, he worked at Boston Chicken or what is now known as Boston Market, according to Local Profile. During his time at the chicken restaurant chain, Wilcox developed his poultry skills, telling Local Profile that he got his start at the age of 16 as a chicken spitter and then worked his way up to shift manager. A chicken spitter, as Wilcox explains, is the person who skewers the rotisserie chicken on a metal rod called the spit. But it wasn't until his stint at the Texas-based Eatzi's, an upscale market and bakery, that Wilcox realized he wanted to be a chef.

Wilcox has come a long way on his culinary journey since those early days of skewering rotisserie chicken. Today, the two-time James Beard-nominated chef uses his cooking skills to teach invaluable team building at his Tre Wilcox Cooking Concepts event venue, per Wilcox's official site. But still, it's Wilcox's passion for chicken that keeps us talking. If you are an avid fan of Bravo's "Top Chef," you may remember Wilcox never letting his chicken knowledge go to waste. In fact, it was Wilcox's unique chicken thigh recipe that won the "Top Chef" judges over when he was a contestant on the show.  

Sure, chicken thighs are versatile and incredibly juicy. But what makes Wilcox's dish so unique? 

Here's the rub: Wilcox seasons his chicken thighs with these ingredients

According to Food & Wine, it's all about the rub when it comes to Wilcox's spicy chicken thigh recipe. It's definitely a winner when it comes to chicken dinner. The secret to Wilcox's delicious Spice-Rubbed Chicken Thighs is right there in the name. "These days I season them [chicken thighs] with crushed red pepper and star anise and braise them in a sauce with tomatoes and red wine," Wilcox told Food & Wine. It's that particular flavor combination that makes Wilcox's chicken dish a game-changer. There's also another important element to his recipe. To bring out the flavor of those spices, per the instructions in his all-star recipe, Wilcox actually toasts the coriander, peppercorns, star anise, and red pepper over low heat before grinding it into a dry rub to season the thighs.  

However, the juiciness of this chicken thigh recipe may be tied to the three different cooking methods Wilcox uses. He allows the chicken to turn a "deep golden" color in the skillet before transferring it to a roasting pan. Using the pan, he braises the chicken for an hour in the tomatoes and red wine marinade, along with other aromatic herbs. After removing those liquids to create a sauce, Wilcox finishes it under the broiler for two minutes to crisp the skin. The finished result? Pure perfection.