Hot Steamy Chicken served in a flavorful sofrito
Spanish Baked Chicken is a hearty meal, perfect for a diet conscious weeknight
I love this meal for a lot of reasons. The meal lets me pull in fresh basil, oregano, and tomatoes from the garden. The baked chicken takes on a lot of flavor from the Sofrito, which I explain below. Overall its a diet friendly meal packed with steaming hot chicken, it can’t be beat.
I generally try to stay diet conscious and speed oriented during the work week, and many of my meals reflect a basic form to support this. I take lean protein, like chicken or turkey, cook it with a delicious sauce, and serve it with starches and vegetables, often rice and whatever is fresh in my garden. As such my meals tend to be easily customizable and repeatable without getting boring. Today I try to take advantage of a roaster chicken for lower prices and a different means of presenting chicken than the typical boneless skinless breast.
Cooking with a whole chicken
Usually I cook with boneless skinless chicken breast due to its ease of use. With chicken prices as high as they have been lately, the best price I could get was on a full roaster chicken. A sharp knife makes quick work of separating the chicken pieces. I discard the wings of the chicken, since they’re not very meaty, but you could include them in this recipe, or save them to make chicken stock later.
A typical roaster chicken is enough for a 4 serving meal. With a single roaster chicken you can easily carve off:
- Two chicken breast
- Two thighs
- Two drum sticks
Sofrito - Caribbean inspired Spanish chicken
Sofrito is a common preparation style where onion, pepper, and herbs are blended in Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Spanish cuisines. The ingredients are chopped finely and sauteed, often with oil. Blending everything into such small pieces and then frying really helps to bring out the flavors of the vegetables and herbs.
Make the sauce ahead
The sauce can be easily made ahead of time. Blending the vegetables and herbs is a quick process, and once you start simmering you can mostly leave the pot alone until it’s done. And if you don’t have time to make the sauce, you can easily substitute for a jar of tomato sauce.
If you make enough extra sauce, you can store it in the fridge for use as red sauce for all manner of pasta and spaghetti meals. This red sauce is so much better than pre-canned sauce, and so easy to make, that I don’t think I’ve bought a can of pasta sauce in years.
By the way, you can put whole different spin on this recipe by using smoked tomatoes. Check out my guide for how to blanch and smoke them before making sauce.
How to slow cook Spanish Baked Chicken
This recipe came out great baking it in the oven, but 40 minutes in the oven can be a long time on a busy weeknight. Luckily, this dish could just as easily be made in the slow cooker! After browning the chicken and making the sauce, you can throw it all in the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. You could even try just adding the sofrito, tomatoes, and chicken to the slow cooker. The texture of the meal will be different, but the flavor will be delicious.
Easy Side Dishes
There are a number of ways to round out this meal. Some of my favorites include:
- Turmeric Yellow Rice: This is how the meal is presented in this recipe. Yellow rice is super easy and offers more flavor and color than white rice.
- Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms: Mushroom pilaf is another excellent way to do rice with this meal. The rehydrate mushrooms offer a lot of flavor.
- Chickpea Salad: Chickpea salad is a great way to lower calories and increase protein.
How to make Spanish Baked Chicken
Spanish Baked Chicken
- 1 Baking Dish 9x13
- 1 Frying Pan
- 1 Food processor or similar, or some knife skills
- 1 Raw Roaster Chicken or ~1.5lb of raw chicken meat
Spanish Baked Chicken Marinade
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp za'tar (or dried thyme)
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp Halabi Pepper Flakes (or ½ tsp red pepper flakes)
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 32 oz whole peeled tomatoes (1 quart)
- 6-8 sprigs fresh oregano
- A few fresh basil leaves
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- a pinch of salt
- 1 onion
- 1 bell pepper
Spanish Baked Chicken Tomato Sauce
- Blend onion and bell pepper and herbs in a food processor or blender.
- Heat a Dutch oven with about 1 tbsp olive oil. Add a small bit of the blended mixture to the oil, and watch until it starts to sizzle, then add the rest of the mixture. Sauté in Dutch oven until fragrant and starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Puree tomatoes in the same blender or food processor, then add tomatoes to the Dutch oven and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Spanish Baked Chicken
- In a large Pyrex combine all marinade ingredients and stir well.
- Add chicken pieces to the marinade and let rest in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes, though preferably overnight.
- Heat a skillet over high heat with about ½ tbsp canola oil. Brown chicken pieces for 2-4 minutes on each side. Depending on the size of the chicken pieces, this will likely need to be done in two batches. Set aside until ready to bake.
- Arrange the browned chicken pieces in a 9x13 casserole dish and cover with the sauce.
- Bake in a 400F oven for 40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.Serve with rice and a side salad. Enjoy 🙂