Stuffed Chicken Thighs Braised in Tomato Sauce

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Spinach-Parmesan stuffing provides great flavor in boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Try it with the optional chicken livers in the stuffing for an extra-rich treat. And don’t worry, even though when stuffed it looks like the filling will ooze out, it doesn’t. The egg in the stuffing acts as a binder to keep everything in place. The recipe makes plenty of sauce, so be sure to cook up some pasta or make mashed potatoes to serve alongside the saucy chicken.

Stuffed Chicken Thighs Braised in Tomato Sauce
Nutritionist Tested & Approved

Time: 150 minutes (120 minutes prep)

  • Stuffing & Chicken

  • 1 cup frozen (thawed) or cooked spinach, squeezed dry

  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs from day-old bread, preferably whole-wheat (see Tip)

  • 4 ounces fresh chicken livers, coarsely chopped (optional; see Note)

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds, (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

  • 10 4- to 5-ounce boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • Sauce

  • 2 cups finely chopped onion

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot

  • 1/2 cup diced fennel bulb

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot

  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic

  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine

  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. To prepare stuffing & chicken: Combine spinach and breadcrumbs in a medium bowl with chicken livers (if using), Parmesan, egg, fennel fronds (if using), 2 tablespoons shallot, 1 tablespoon garlic, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt until well blended. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.

  2. Place a chicken thigh skinned-side down on a work surface. Fill the thigh with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the stuffing, first filling the area (or pocket) left by the bone and placing the rest in the center of the thigh. Roll the thigh closed and secure with 2 pieces of kitchen string. Repeat with the remaining thighs and stuffing. (You may leftover stuffing.) Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper and salt.

  3. Heat oil in a large, heavy, high-sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add half the thighs, seam-side down. Cook, turning 2 or 3 times, until brown on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes total. Transfer to a clean plate and repeat with the remaining thighs.

  4. To prepare sauce: Add onion, carrot, fennel, 1/4 cup shallot and 2 tablespoons garlic to the pan. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add wine and scrape up any browned bits; bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil until the liquid is reduced by about half, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in broth, tomatoes, basil, thyme and the chicken thighs. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered and turning the thighs occasionally, until cooked through and tender, 35 to 40 minutes.

  5. Remove the thighs with a slotted spoon; tent with foil to keep warm. Simmer the sauce further to thicken it, if desired, or thin with a little broth or water if it’s too thick. Season with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Serve the chicken with the sauce.

Tip: To make fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup fresh crumbs.

Note: Look for fresh chicken livers that have not been previously frozen. Previously frozen livers exude more liquid when cooking.

If preparing ahead of time: Prepare the stuffing (Step 1), cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day or stuff the chicken (Step 2), cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. | Equipment: Kitchen string

Nutritional Facts

Added Sugars
Dietary Fiber
Monounsaturated Fat
Saturated Fat
Vitamin A (83% daily value)
Vitamin C (22% dv)
Potassium & Zinc (19% dv)
Magnesium (16% dv)
Carbohydrate Servings
1/2 starch
1 vegetable
3 lean meat

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chicken main dish EatingWell Meal Plan chicken/poultry

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