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Looking for a light, refreshing, Zestuous dinner? This one is sure to please. It’s a little outside the box, but it’s healthy and packed full of flavor.

When it comes to poultry, I’m a fan of dark meat. Give me a turkey leg any day. Chicken thighs though can be a little tricky. Like me, the birds carry a little more fat around their thighs. Not uber sexy and not very tasty.

I like the fatty skin peeled right off. The dark meat is still rich with flavor and juicier than the breast.

I knew this skinny thigh was going to soak in a buttermilk bath for a while, but she needed some company. My first stop was the citrus aisle. I wanted to add a little acid to her bath to break down the proteins and brighten up the dish.

Lemons and limes would be too acidic and oranges would be too sweet, so I chose to go with a big ole Texas grapefruit.

I needed another twist. Walking through the grocery, I spotted some beautiful fennel full of long, green, healthy fronds. In case you’ve never had fennel, it has the characteristics of black licorice. WAIT! Don’t leave this post just yet. Fennel does not taste like black jelly beans.

I’m not sure how to describe it. It has a fresh bite, but it’s also so mellow that the bite just rests on the palette instead of punching you in the face. It pairs nicely with so many things.

Lastly, these thighs called for satin sheets instead of flannel…so I skipped the potatoes and rice and grabbed some fresh watercress to make a beautiful bed of greens. You could use arugula or spinach, but the watercress called out to me.

As with any good bath, I let these thighs soak overnight. They picked up hints of all of the flavors and were ready for the grill. 10 minutes on high heat and they were so juicy and full of unexpected flavors.


While they were fabulous hot, the leftovers were equally delicious cold ~ a true spring and summertime treat. Oh and at less than 200 calories, they’re kind to your thighs, too.

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Skinny Thighs in a Grapefruit Fennel Buttermilk Bath


  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 bunch fennel fronds
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Watercress Fennel Salad

  • 1/4 cup grapefruit juice
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • ¼ tsp. herbes de Provence
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 bunches watercress
  • half a fennel bulb, sliced


  • Cut a grapefruit in half and cut off one slice for garnish. Squeeze the juice from the grapefruit.
  • In a large bowl, combine 1/3 cup of the juice, the grapefruit pulp, 1 ½ cups buttermilk, fennel fronds, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence and the chicken thighs.
  • Allow it to marinate overnight.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together ¼ cup of the fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, 1 tablespoon buttermilk, Dijon mustard, honey and ¼ teaspoon of herbes de Provence and salt. Toss in the watercress and fennel slices and scoop a portion onto each plate.
  • Heat the grill to high. Remove the thighs from the bath.
  • Grill for 6 minutes. Flip and grill for 4 more minutes, until cooked through.
  • Plate atop the watercress salad, garnish with a grapefruit wedge and serve.

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Christie Vanover

About Zestuous

Hi. I’m Christie, the head cook and award-winning competitive pitmaster for Team Girls Can Grill. I have won multiple grand championships and have dozens of top ten category finishes. People know me as the girl who is forever hovering over a grill, smoker or campfire with tongs in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.

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  1. Thanks Ann. You could definitely cut the salt. I included it to brine the chicken in the buttermilk bath, to keep it extra juicy. Since it’s dark meat, I think it would still be juicy salt-free. Enjoy!!

  2. Amazing! This looks SO good Christie! I am dying to try this … would it still be good if I cut the salt, do you think? I am trying to cut sodium from my daughter’s diet …