It’s usually pretty hard for me to get super excited over a chicken dish, but this oven baked chicken recipe is moist, succulent and delicious beyond words. My 89-year old dad says it’s the best chicken he has ever had! It’s also one of the easiest recipes in the world to make.
Allowing the chicken to marinate for at least 8 hours in the sauce is definitely one of the secrets to the recipe, but using San Marzano tomatoes is every bit as important.
What’s the deal with San Marzano tomatoes? They are the most famous plum tomato to come out of Italy and considered by many cooks to be the best tomatoes to use in a sauce. San Marzano tomatoes have a mild sweet flavor and low acidity and they are coveted for their firm pulp, deep red color, easy to remove skin and low seed count. All of these qualities play a very important role in the oven baked chicken recipe below, so I would definitely not suggest substituting any old canned tomato!
But believe it or not, all canned San Marzano tomatoes are not created equal. Although Cook’s Illustrated would disagree, I personally prefer Cento brand’s organic San Marzano tomatoes. It is not easy to find the organic variety at the supermarket, but if you use them as much as I do then you can order a pack of 6 from Amazon.
And don’t leave off the finishing touches! Adding either fresh oregano or fresh basil and a few pinches of crushed red pepper are not just afterthoughts. They contribute just the right something-something for a perfect oven baked chicken dinner.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large Spanish onion (chopped)
- 2 carrots (peeled and chopped)
- 8 cloves garlic (crushed)
- Unrefined sea salt (to taste)
- 1 can (28-ounces whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes)
- 1/4 cup full-bodied red wine
- 1 1/2 pounds pasture-raised skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano or basil (chopped)
- Crushed red pepper (to taste)
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high; add the onions, carrots and garlic, season with salt and saute until vegetables are soft, about 7 or 8 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and wine and season with a bit more salt. Bring liquid to a boil and then lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set the sauce aside to cool.
- Once the sauce is at room temperature, add the chicken thighs. Cover and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Transfer the sauce and chicken to a large baking dish and season with a bit more salt. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove chicken from oven, sprinkle the oregano or basil on top and add a few pinches of crushed red pepper. Serve warm.
Did You Make the Oven Baked Chicken?
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Want More Healthy Dinner Recipes?
If you liked the Oven Baked Chicken recipe, be sure to check out a full month’s menu of delicious healthy dinner recipes (including weekly shopping lists!) in our Clean Cuisine Dinners digital cookbook.