Healthy eating can still resemble good, Southern comfort food despite its low-calorie count. Take for instance this recipe from EatingWell, the health-focused food blog; their recipe guide for cooking, preparing, and serving “Smothered Chicken Breasts in Onion Gravy” focuses on a gravy-heavy meal that doesn’t stack up the calories because a minimum amount of oil is used to make the roux base for the dish.
This recipe was penned for EatingWell Magazine by James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Virginia Willis. Willis commented on the misconception that gravy automatically categorizes a meal as unhealthy by saying, “I love gravy; in my mind, there are rivers of it in heaven! Using a minimum amount of oil to make the roux reduces calories. The result is good, country-style cooking—always welcome on my weight-loss plan.”
Ingredients for the Smothered Chicken:
- 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
- 1 cup of low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 medium-sized sweet onions, sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons of whole-wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon of onion powder
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- ¾ teaspoon of kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon of ground pepper, divided
Directions for the Smothered Chicken:
- You’ll want to start this recipe by preheating your convection oven to 350°F. Then, in a nearby shallow mixing bowl, stir together your flout, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper.
- Pat your boneless, skinless chicken breasts down with a paper towel to remove the excess moisture, and then dredge the chicken breasts into the flour mixture so that both sides of the breasts are coated evenly. Shave off the excess flour after you dredge each chicken piece, and save the remainder of your flour mixture to use later on.
- Next, heat 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is properly spread throughout the skillet and heated, add your chicken breasts and cook them for about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Wait until one side of the chicken is browned, and then flip for the remaining side; you’ll only flip once. Afterwards transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Now, you’ll add in your onions, the remaining 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ⅛ teaspoon of pepper to the pan and reduce the overall heat to medium. Cook the contents of the pan while stirring occasionally. Continue cooking just until the onions are a golden brown color, which normally takes approximately 5 to 7 minutes total. Once they’re browned, add in your minced garlic and cook until the pan’s contents are quite fragrant, which usually takes approximately 45 to 60 seconds.
- At this point, you’ll take the remaining flour mixture that you used to dredge the chicken breasts earlier, and you’ll tip the remaining mixture into the onions while stirring to coat them in the flour. Add the chicken broth to the pan and increase your heat to medium-high, bringing it to a complete boil while stirring often.
- After the pan is boiling, adjust the heat so that you’re maintaining a simmer. At which point you’ll add in your reserved chicken, any and all juices that have accumulated, thyme, and your bay leaf. Position your chicken so that they’re nestled into the onions, and turn them to fully coat them.
- Lastly, transfer your pan to the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes. You’re going to keep the chicken in the oven until an instant-read thermometer that’s placed into the thickest part of the chicken registers at 165°F. Once it does, you can discard your bay leaf and serve!
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