Do you ever have those moments where you you find yourself alone and realize that the house is so quiet that you can hear the water dispenser refilling in the fridge? Okay, that NEVER happens to me. EVER. And tonight it happened for the first time in who knows how long. So I pulled out my laptop and decided, I couldn’t wait to post about my dinner tonight. I was that eager to share my recipe for my too-good-to-be-true one-pot chicken with tomato cream sauce. So out comes the 90s tunage, as I reminisce my teenage years and break that silence in my house. Hey, don’t judge. 90s music=best music to work to. This is what happens when I eat deliciousness for dinner!
So what if I told you that this indulgent, creamy, rich, one-pot chicken with tomato cream sauce is actually made with zero cream and very little fat? You’d stare at me like I was crazy or like I’m lying. Crazy, maybe. But lying, not at all. It’s 100% true. This chicken dish is made with a healthier alternative to the traditional heavy cream and fat you see in these sorts of dishes: cream cheese and the tinsiest bit of buttah. Butter is not bad for you guys; just be mindful of the portions- it took me a long time to not feel guilty for cooking with butter. The best part is, this skinny version doesn’t compromise, not even the teeniest bit, of flavor. In fact, it’s explosive in flavor and oh so filling and loaded with good-for-you veggies like tons of meaty mushrooms, two different kinds in fact, and leafy baby spinach.
It starts with boneless, skinless chicken thighs. And mind you, I’m a chicken breast kinda gal. I rarely ever cook with dark meat because I don’t like the taste and yet I found myself staring at the accidentally purchased boneless, skinless thighs this morning. What the heck do I do with this stuff? And then a light bulb went of: chicken with a tomato cream sauce that is deceptively lighter than traditional cream sauces. I’m just a tad obsessed with food and cooking so much so that I dream in recipes and new dishes. Anyway, I have to confess, I might start using dark meat again if they turn out half as good as this dish did. Maybe I’ll even shred some cooked thigh meat into this guiltless eggroll in a bowl next time I make it.
But first things first, let’s talk sauce. OHMYGOD the sauce. I loved the sauce even more than the chicken and vegetables. I might just do the sauce by itself next time! This sauce was a tangy, slightly spicy, sweet, velvety, melt-in-your-mouth dream come true. It left me wishing for some nice, crusty bread because it begs to be sopped-up with carby goodness. But for those of us who are *ahem* trying to keep it low-carb, it pairs beautifully with spiralized veggie noodles or brown rice. Or even roasted vegetables. You pick. OR you can splurge on the carbs and go with polenta or mashed potatoes. That’s like heaven on a plate for me.
The secret ingredient to this sauce is something no one will ever guess: dijon mustard. DO.NOT.SKIP.THE.DIJON.MUSTARD. Trust me when I say that. I made the sauce and tried it first, without the mustard and it was just okay; it felt like something something was missing. Enter the dijon mustard and you’re talking epic sauce now. It took this dish from average to gourmet with the addition of one simple ingredient. So just go ahead and stir that bad boy in; just regular ole’ dijon mustard.
I love, love, love mushrooms. I never ate them growing up because my mom never cooked with them; there isn’t much room in Indian cooking for mushrooms, apparently. At least in my mom’s version there wasn’t. And the first time I had them, when I started doing the grocery shopping myself, I turned to my mom and said “Why have you kept these from me all these years?!” Yeah, I come with a flair for the dramatic. So back to the mushrooms. Mushrooms add bulk and “meat” to any dish because of their complex, earthy flavor. And they can mimic the texture of meat for only a fraction of the calories. Add less meat + more mushroom= hearty meal without too many more calories. I had some portabella and button mushrooms on hand so I married them with some tender baby spinach, another match made in heaven.
Look at how beauteous my cast iron pan looks with the addition of diced tomatoes? I made that, you guys. Yes, little ‘ole me made that-or at least began the process of making that! I want to dive into this pan and swim in this sauce. Seriously, just let me drown in it.
Also, I love the word beauteous. Try to casually use it in a sentence. You will blow peoples’ minds. Because, like who the heck really uses words like that? Other than the dictionary people?!
Some useful suggestions:
- this dish is super customizable. Don’t like mushrooms? Don’t add them. Add more spinach instead or any similar veggies in your fridge. Just stay away from the more ‘watery’ veggies like zucchini because they’ll turn to mush and make the chicken dish quite messy.
- If you use bone-in chicken, you’ll have to adjust the cooking time and increase it by 10-15 minutes because bone-in chicken takes longer to cook.
- If you have the time and plan ahead, let the chicken marinate in the spices from the first step in the recipe. It really infuses the flavor into the meat.
- The consistency of the sauce is 100% based on preference. I like my sauce to be on the thinner side so I added more broth. If you prefer a thicker sauce, just use less broth. You can always add more broth later.
- The sauce will thicken as the chicken stands, once you take it off the heat. To reheat, just add 1/2 cup water or broth at a time to bring it back to desired consistency.
So my friends, this is where I leave you. With this delightfully easy, healthy, and less-dishes-to-do meal that comes together in one pot. If you make this dish, post pictures on instagram and tag me @mannaandspice.
Until next time when I’m hungry again!
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 6 pieces
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper (or to taste)
- 1 14.5 oz can diced red tomatoes
- 2-3 cups baby spinach
- 2 portabello mushrooms, sliced
- 8-10 button mushrooms, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 3½-4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 4 oz reduced fat plain cream cheese
- chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
- In a large bowl combine chicken thighs, ½ tsp salt, black pepper, 1 tsp paprika. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil on medium-high to high heat. Once almost smoking hot, add chicken and allow to sear and caramelize about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
- Add mushrooms and 1 tsp salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the mushrooms release water and then start to soften and caramelize. Continue cooking for 3 more minutes. Add garlic cloves and spinach. Saute until spinach is wilted. Add crushed red pepper and paprika. and continue to cook for 2 more minutes. Add diced tomatoes and cook until most of the water has evaporated.
- Slowly pour in 3½ cups chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Stir in cream cheese and allow to fully melt and blend into the sauce. Add in butter and let melt.
- Arrange cooked chicken pieces in the pan by making wells into the sauce to submerge chicken.
- Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked.
- Remove lid and increase the heat to medium high. Stir in dijon mustard and cook until sauce is to desired consistency. If sauce is too thick, add remaining chicken broth.
- Garnish with parsley and serve hot.