Herb, Garlic, and Chili Stuffed Chicken Thighs

Herb, Garlic, and Chili Stuffed Chicken Thighs

Little goes to waste in traditional Arab households, especially when it comes to butchering livestock, and my family is no exception. Around the holidays, my mother often made a dish of spleen stuffed with the most piquant garlic and herb filling. As a child, I hated spleen because I found it too minerally, but I would always take a piece of bread and mop up the delicious stuffing that had fallen out into the pan. Here I replicate that filling but with milder, and more easily accessible, chicken thighs for the best of both worlds. The potatoes are optional, but I love the crispiness and flavor that come from cooking them alongside the chicken and its rendered fat. The stuffing works just as well with other cuts of meat, such as flank steak or chicken breast, and of course, with lamb offal.


For the chicken:

  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the stuffing:

  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed in a garlic press
  • 3 fresh red chilies, finely diced
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, finely diced
  • ½ cup (½ oz/15 g) packed fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves, finely chopped (see Note)
  • ÂĽ cup (Âľ oz/25 g) walnut pieces, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ÂĽ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For assembly:

  • 1 lb (450 g) potatoes (3 small to medium), cut into wedges
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Prepare the chicken: Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels and trim off any straggly bits. Sprinkle all over with the salt. Drizzle with the olive oil, rub all around, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C/Gas Mark 7).
  2. Make the stuffing: In a bowl, combine the garlic, both chilies, the cilantro (coriander), walnuts, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, salt, and black pepper and mix to combine.
  3. Gently loosen the skin from the thigh meat with your fingers to make a pocket, but make sure the skin is still connected to the meat. Divide the stuffing evenly among the thighs and place it in the pocket between the skin and the meat, pulling the skin so it covers the chicken and stuffing.
  4. To assemble: Put the potato wedges in a 9 Ă— 13-inch (23 Ă— 33 cm) roasting pan and sprinkle lightly with salt. Nestle the thighs between the potato wedges and use any drippings or remaining oil to rub on the potato wedges. Top everything with a few twists of pepper.
  5. Transfer to the oven and roast until the meat is cooked through, the skin is crisp to your liking, and the potatoes are crisped and browned, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Let rest for 5 minutes, then transfer to a platter or individual plates and serve.

Notes: You can replace the cilantro with 2 tablespoons crushed dried herbs, such as za’atar, oregano, marjoram, thyme, dill, etc. If you do, reduce the salt in the stuffing to ¼ teaspoon.

Adapted from THE ARABESQUE TABLE by Reem Kassis (Phaidon, $39.95 US/$49.95 CAN, 2021).

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