Chicken in the Greens

Chicken in the Greens served over rice.
Chicken in the Greens served over rice.

When I was a toddler, I loved spinach. I loved it so much that I’d sneak into the refrigerator and get cold, cooked spinach from whatever container it was in and eat it by the handful. I don’t remember this, but I know it’s not some fairytale concocted to get me to eat spinach later in my childhood when I decided it was yucky … because my parents produced photographic evidence. I eventually grew out of the “yucky spinach” phase, but not to the extent I’d eat cold spinach right out of the fridge. 

I especially enjoy salads when spinach plays a lead or supporting role. I freeze pureed spinach in ice cube trays and throw the cubes in my smoothies. I sometimes top pizzas with spinach. I also love an occasional meal with fresh cooked spinach.  What’s your favorite spinach mode? Please leave a comment.

Dear sweet husband brought home a giant bag of spinach the other day. In the heat of summer I’d puree and freeze some for smoothies, but in the dead of winter I’m not that into anything made with ice. It was time to cook some instead.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to combine with the spinach, but I knew I wasn’t leaving the house so it would have to be on hand. I had four chicken thighs, a bunch of garlic, and some broccoli that needed to be used. Quite randomly, my digital news feed had featured a recipe for pan fried chicken thighs that settled how to cook the dish. Now all I needed were the spices. 

Ginger popped into my head. I didn’t have any fresh ginger on hand, so I settled for the powdered variety. I threw a few more spices into the mix and it was “game on” for this new recipe. With ingredients like cayenne and turmeric, it’s colorful, but my favorite part is the aroma that permeates the room as it cooks. 

I made the greens portion of this recipe twice: once with broccoli and spinach and once with only spinach. I recommend the spinach-only version. The stronger broccoli flavor made the dish a little bitter. I think cauliflower might work very nicely in lieu of broccoli if you want to try two veggies in the mix instead of one. 

For a vegetarian version, you could substitute the meat for tofu cubes and use vegetable broth. Keep the salt down or replace with a substitute and you have a low sodium dish. Replace or eliminate the rice, and the dish is also gluten free. Removing the skin from the chicken helps reduce the fat, although I won’t claim it’s a low fat dish.

“We, who fill our stomachs with nothing but boiled lettuce, raw lettuce, spinach, spinach and more spinach. Maybe we’ll end up being as strong as Popeye, though so far I’ve seen no sign of it!”

—Anne Frank

Ingredients

    Chicken

      About 1-2 TBSP oil (enough to cover bottom of pan)

4 chicken thighs, skin removed

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp fenugreek

1/2 tsp salt

Broccoli Greens 

Version 1: 8 C spinach and NO broccoli

Version 2: 4 C spinach leaves, stems trimmed and 4 C broccoli florets, trimmed to bite size pieces

   —

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 clove garlic, sliced

1 C chicken stock

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp fenugreek

1/2 tsp salt

Prep time: about 1 hour                                        

Yields: 4 servings

Directions

Chicken

Place oil in bottom of pan and heat. Pull skin from chicken thighs and place in pan.

Sprinkle spices over thighs and cook on medium heat, turning occasionally to cook through, about 20 minutes. Cover lid after initial browning, 

Remove thighs from heat and set aside.

Greens

Rinse vegetables. Remove stems from spinach leaves and chop broccoli florets to bite-size pieces. Mince two garlic cloves and slice one.

Heat pan to medium. Add spices to pan. Add garlic and stir. Add broccoli and stir. Add spinach and mix all ingredients well. 

Add 1 C chicken stock and cover. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir about halfway in to ensure all of the spinach leaves wilt. Remove lid and cook down liquid sightly, stirring occasionally. 

Place chicken thighs on top of green mixture and close lid. Cook about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, remove lid and maintain heat on low for about 5 minutes. 

Chicken in the Greens at a glance.
Chicken in the Greens at a glance.

Serving Suggestions

Serve warm over garlic-infused basmati rice, couscous, or lentils. 

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