Although we still have some warm days ahead, there is definitely a shift in the weather. Cooler nights, sweaters, comfort food… these always seem to go together. I don’t know about you but I start getting away from the light salads I’ve been making all summer, and dig through my recipes for something a bit heartier, warm, and well, comforting. Like this Oven Baked Chicken with Rustic Croutons.
I don’t know why I equate certain foods as comfort foods; my mom wasn’t the best cook (love you mom) but she cooked with love so that must be it. I like turning some of the dishes she made for us into healthier versions, making new comfort food for my own family. Using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients from the farmers market (preferably organic) is key for me. And the meat needs to be hormone/antibiotic free. Not all butcher shops carry this, so I was happy to start finding it at my local supermarkets. And, bonus: The Foster Farms Simply Raised fresh chicken I’ve been finding, is sourced from family-owned and operated farms here in California (and other places as well) so it’s super fresh! And, they even have an organic version!!! (Head to the end of the recipe for a downloadable coupon!)
I love the ease of this oven baked chicken recipe. It’s a breeze to throw together after work or on short notice. You most likely already have all the ingredients in your home!
You might even look at the photo above and think, that’s it? Yep! For one of the most flavorful chicken dishes you’ll ever make! (Plus some pepper that I forgot to put in the photo.) No need for frying chicken… or in my mom’s case, those shake and bake chickens full of additives you can’t pronounce. Then there were all the heavy carbs she served with it. Not here! This is my new comfort food update of her signature shake and bake chicken dish! lol
First you’ll want to chop up your fresh rosemary and garlic. (You’re not still buying rosemary are you??? It is one of the easiest herbs to grow and maintain, so get yourselves a little pot of it already!)
Here’s another great, easy cooking tip: whenever you use lemons for anything, zest them and freeze the zest for future use. All I had to do is take this little baggy out of the freezer for this recipe. You’re welcome.
Add all the seasonings to a bowl and mix with olive oil. (Tip #2: use a flavorful, course, sea salt if you have it. I think it adds to the flavor. If you only have table salt, use a little less, as your measurement might be off, volume-wise)
Quarter your lemons…
For this recipe, you need to use bone-in, skin-on chicken for the best flavor. (Foster Farms has a good selection to choose from.) My son is a butcher and he is always telling me the flavor is in the fat! Plus we need those pan drippings for later.
Add the olive oil mixture to the chicken and coat well. Hands are best for this, and when I’m done with the chicken, I rub the lemons with what’s left on my hands or in the pan.
While the chicken is cooking, cut a chunk of bread (I guess-timate what four pieces would look like) and tear into bite size pieces. Don’t cut them into cubes – the tearing is what adds to the rustic feel of this dish.
Once the chicken is done, remove it and set aside, then add the bread to the pan, rolling the pieces around to absorb the drippings and flavor. Pop the pan back into the oven to toast those up.
Add the spinach (delicious from my favorite Kenter Canyon Farms) to the crouton pan and move them around to pick up any additional flavor from the pan as well. There shouldn’t be any oils left in the pan – you aren’t looking for them to get a ‘dressing’ from this, just pick up some of the flavorings from the seasonings we’ve used.
And that’s it. The chicken skin should have a nice, light herb crust to it and be super moist and flavorful. (Especially with the Foster Farms Simply Raised Chicken being so fresh.) This Oven Baked Chicken with Rustic Croutons may just be your new comfort food too!
On a side note, I was pretty happy to find out that Foster Farms is also a family run business and has been since 1939, when Max and Verda Foster borrowed money to start an 80 acre farm near Modesto, California. Three of their sons still run the business today.
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