Does chicken make a regular appearance on your dinner table? If so, I bet it’s usually in the form of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Yes, those chicken breasts are definitely a healthy option, but I have to confess that even though I’ve been working on losing a lot of weight over the past year, chicken breasts have not been a mainstay in my diet. Why? Because they bore me..plain and simple..boring. And when I’m bored with my food, I’m more easily tempted by things I really shouldn’t be eating.
Instead of chicken breasts, I tend to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs pretty often. Yes, they’re higher in calories and fat than chicken breasts, but for me, those few extra calories are worth it. Chicken thighs have more flavor and don’t dry out like chicken breasts do if they’re cooked a little too long, and you can use them in most recipes calling for chicken breasts.
As a kid, one of my favorite dinners was my mom’s spaghetti with chicken thighs. Her version was usually made with sauce from a jar..nothing wrong with that, and if you want to use jarred sauce for this recipe, go right ahead, it’ll still be great. But as part of my healthier eating agenda, I’m trying to make more dishes from scratch, and making a sauce like this from scratch is almost as easy as opening a jar. The tomatoes I like to use are San Marzano..that’s a type of tomato, not a brand. They are a little pricier than regular canned tomatoes, but for me it’s worth it. We’re not talking a fortune here..at our local grocery store they’re about $3.00 a can. I like them because they have a sweeter, fresher taste than “normal” whole tomatoes. But they’re not a must..use whatever tomatoes you prefer.
If you’ve checked out my blog before, you may have noticed that this is my first recipe using pasta. My family loves pasta and it used to be on our table several nights a week. But, back to the healthy eating thing..it’s now an occasional treat, making an appearance only a couple times a month. So now when I eat pasta, it’s usually a healthier variety..Dreamfields is my current favorite..and I eat a smaller portion than I used to. Usually I serve this sauce over spaghetti, but I had some penne already opened, so that’s what I used and it was just as good.
In fact, you could skip the pasta altogether and serve this delicious, chicken-filled tomato sauce over brown rice, quinoa, or even spaghetti squash (thanks to the pasta-loving, picky men I cook for, that’s something I haven’t tried yet, but it’s on my to-cook list). You could even just eat it as-is with some fresh garlic bread to soak up the sauce..oh, that sounds so good that I might have to try that this week!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 to 1.5 pounds boneless/skinless chicken thighs (6-8 thighs)
- 1 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepepr
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped
- ½ cup of red wine
- 28 ounce can of whole San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 4 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large, deep skillet. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. In a small bowl mix together all of the seasonings, and sprinkle half of the mixture over both sides of the chicken.
- Place the seasoned chicken thighs in the heated oil and brown, about 5 minutes per side. Remove chicken from the skillet, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.
- Add the onions to the skillet and cook over medium heat until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring often so they don’t brown. Add the garlic to the onions and cook for an additional minute, stirring so that the garlic doesn’t brown.
- Carefully add the wine to the skillet, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom. Simmer over medium heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, sugar, and the other half of the seasoning mixture to the skillet. Use your spoon to break up the tomatoes as they cook. You don’t want any whole tomatoes left in the sauce, but they should be chunky.
- Add the chicken thighs to the tomato mixture and simmer over medium-low heat until the sauce starts to thicken and the thighs are cooked all the way through, about 10-15 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little water.
- Taste the sauce and add additional salt, pepper, or seasonings as needed. Just before serving, stir in the chopped basil leaves.
- Serve over your favorite pasta.