Cheap Eats: Chicken Thighs with Dates
In the new world of sheet pan dinners is an old world of food that working mothers used to make when they wanted to feed their families something good without a lot of fuss and expense. I constantly marvel at the plethora of recipes on the internet and in magazines touting foufou recipes that can be baked on a sheet pan but that require ingredients that are hard to find, expensive, or just plain weird. So, I decided to try a simple dish that's a long-time classic, cheap to make, calls for ingredients (not too many) that are tasty, nutritious, and easy to find, and that doesn't involve a lot of work. I don't want to start a huge cooking project in the evening when I'm tired, but, at the same time, I also want something that's really good. Chicken Thighs with Dates checks all the requirements: cheap, good, and easy. The boneless, skinless thighs bake atop a mixture of sweet potatoes, onions, and dates, so you've got a built-in side dish included. All you'll need to round out the meal is a green veggie and/or salad. How does it taste? The chicken is succulent, and the sweet potatoes and onions are the perfect sweet-savory foil. The dates also provide sweetness to take the edge off the apple cider vinegar. This is comfort food elevated.
Chicken Thighs with Dates -- Serves 4+
1-2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (4-8 thighs)
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-3-inch chunks
1-2 large onions, peeled and cut into 1-2-inche wedges
1 cup of large dried pitted dates cut in half, if you want (about 20 or so)
Chopped fresh parsley, dill, green onions, mint, thyme, etc. (about 1/4-1/2 cup)
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1-2 teaspoons of chopped garlic
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of pepper or lemon pepper
1-2 teaspoons of salt
1/4 cup of water or white wine
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a large baking dish (or a sheet pan if you want! Just make sure the sheet pan is large and deep enough, so you don't have drips all over the bottom of your oven) with non-stick cooking spray. To a large plastic bag, add the potatoes, onions, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Seal and shake the bag well to coat the vegetables with the oil and salt, then place them in a single layer in the baking dish. Place the chicken thighs on top of the vegetables in a single layer. Nestle in the dates among the chicken and vegetables. Whisk together the vinegar, remaining oil, garlic and garlic powder, pepper, and remaining salt. Pour the mixture over the chicken thighs, vegetables, and dates. Put the dish in the oven and bake until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork and the chicken is done (165-185 degrees on a meet thermometer), usually about 40 minutes. While the chicken and vegetables are resting, chop whatever herbs you have on hand. I like a combination of parsley, dill, thyme, and sometimes a little mint. When you're ready to serve the chicken, sprinkle the herbs on top.