Roasted Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potatoes, Kale & Herbs (AIP, Paleo)
I’ll assume that by now you’ve already been convinced of the glory of chicken thighs over chicken breasts (cheaper AND 10 times more tender and flavorful) and so I’ll spend this space instead advocating for the merits of working ahead. You know those friends who seem to have it all? Fulfilling jobs, active families, a wide circle of friends, good health, lovely homes? I’ll bet my chicken thighs that they work ahead: they exercise before the day gets crazy, they complete projects ahead of deadlines, they clean up as they go. I of course rarely pull off any of these things, however – I try to. And when I do, I am so grateful for the little gift I gave my future self. I promise myself to do it more often, and sometimes I actually achieve it.
And so I share with you this easy little dish, which can absolutely be assembled up to 24 hours before you cook it. Roasting the chicken thighs atop sweet potatoes (or potatoes, if you prefer) yields crispy, tender chicken atop rich, crusty potatoes, scented with your favorite summer herbs and aromatics (very flexible, mix it up as you see fit). The leftovers are fantastic reheated – try reheating a chicken breast, ba! – which means a delectable lunch at your desk the next day.I choose actual sweet potatoes – which have a rather white skin – instead of yams, which are deep orange, and often called sweet potatoes even though they aren’t. Sweet potatoes are starchier and less sweet – more similar to a standard potato. I’m sure you could make the dish with yams, you’ll just have a sweeter, softer result.I put the make-aheadness of this dish to good use this past weekend as I was busy with my son’s high school graduation festivities. What a bittersweet occasion, full of pride and joy to see him so excited to be off on new adventures; and also full of the deep sadness of closing the “mommy” chapter of my life.
Of course I will always be his mother, and I haven’t been his mommy for several years already, but the graduation ceremony really ends the era, there’s no denying it. No more volunteering at school, or driving him around, or watching him play baseball, or helping with homework or projects – I loved all of those things and I have missed them (and him) as they’ve fallen away. I’ve filled the spaces with challenging work, wonderful friends, enjoying the peace and beauty of my home, focusing on my health, and as much time outside as I can muster. I’ve very specifically fought the pull of nostalgia, which isn’t easy for me. I’m a nostalgic person but as I’ve gotten older, I find spending too much time in the past just steals me away from all the good things in my present. And so I’m working to strike the balance between celebrating the end of one era while also celebrating the beginning of the next. It’s an adventure for Nathan, and for me too. I’m so grateful that I started the autoimmune protocol in February, giving myself at least a few months of healing and feeling good before this important event. That’s not why I did it, but I sure am glad that I accidentally worked ahead.
Congratulations and best wishes to all of you excited graduates and tear-wiping parents!
Roasted Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potatoes, Kale & Herbs
Adapted from a Simply Recipes recipe
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced very thinly (with a mandoline or sharp knife)
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary (or other favorite fresh herb), divided
1 cup thinly sliced lacinato kale (or Brussels sprouts or Swiss chard)
1 garlic clove, minded (or shallot or ramps)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine sweet potatoes, 1 tablespoon of the rosemary, kale, garlic, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and a few generous pinches of salt and combine (I use my hands) to coat the potatoes with oil. Spread the mixture evenly in a deep-dish pie plate.
Sprinkle the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and arrange across the top of the potatoes. Drizzle chicken and top layer of potatoes with a bit of olive oil, then sprinkle with the remaining rosemary. (At this point, you can cover the dish and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.) Bake for 1 hour or until chicken breasts are golden and cooked through and potatoes are tender in the middle and crusty on top (add more time if you’re baking straight from the refrigerator).
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