This baked “fried” chicken is the ultimate one-pan meal. You don’t have to dirty a bunch of dishes to make this; just a baking sheet, a cutting board, and a bowl to soak the chicken in milk. Nothing is better than that. It’s comforting because of the fried chicken, but also healthy(er) because of the squash, red onion, and fresh spinach leaves.
The chicken is based off of my grandma’s fried chicken recipe. It is my all-time favorite meal of hers. She almost always serves it with a spinach salad, and that’s why I knew I had to add the fresh spinach leaves at the end. The chicken is crispy and salty and delicious. It’s baked in butter which gives it so much flavor and really helps to develop the crispy crust. I use unsalted Plugra butter and season the flour that the chicken is breaded with in a generous amount of salt, but feel free to use salted butter as well. I also season the chicken when it comes out of the milk with a little salt and pepper. You don’t want it too salty, of course, but I have noticed if I don’t season it properly, sometimes the chicken will seem like it is lacking in flavor. You can combat that by seasoning it right to begin with.
It really is fall on a baking sheet. The house smells so good while this is baking from the bubbly butter mixed with the chicken thighs and root vegetables. Finish the dish off with a pinch of red pepper flakes and fresh spinach leaves and it leaves you with a one-pan meal that is really going to please everyone.
Baked “Fried” Chicken with Roasted Squash, Red Onions, and Spinach
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)
4 chicken thighs, bone-in
2 cups milk
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper
Pinch of paprika
1/2 stick of butter
1 red onion, quartered
1/2 small kabocha squash, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Baby spinach leaves
Begin by taking the chicken thighs and soaking them in the milk in a large bowl for at least 1 hour. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. In a paper bag, place the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika and mix. Make sure to add a generous amount of salt as this will be the flavoring.
On a baking sheet, place the butter and put in the oven until melted and bubbly and remove right before you put the chicken on. Take the chicken out of the milk, season with a little salt and pepper, and place in the paper bag of flour, 1 piece at a time, and shake until well coated. Tap off any excess, and place on the baking sheet with the melted butter, skin side down. It should start sizzling when it hits the butter. Repeat with remaining chicken thighs. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and flip the chicken over. The skin side should be brown and crispy. Add the red onion quarters and squash, seasoning with salt and red pepper flakes and coating with the butter. Place in the oven for another 15-20 minutes, flipping the squash half way through, if desired. Remove from oven when the chicken is brown and crispy (sometimes I will have to flip the chicken back over to skin-side down and cook for a few minutes until the skin has gotten to be the crispness that I like). Season with salt and pepper if desired.
To serve, place a chicken thigh, a red onion quarter, a few slices of squash and tuck in leaves of spinach.