Sheet Pan Cajun Chicken & Potatoes with Asparagus, Red Peppers, Swiss Chard and Cheesy Grits
Dark meat chicken, potatoes, asparagus, and red bell peppers are coated in cajun spices, roasted, and served with sautéed Swiss chard over cheesy grits. This simple, colorful, hearty meal packs a deliciously powerful punch of flavor and nutrition, and the most tender chicken you've ever tasted.
This is one of those simple recipes that is not complicated BUT requires a fair amount of time in the kitchen (about 90 minutes), looks delicious in an ordinary kind of way BUT produces the most tender, flavorful chicken and creamy potatoes you've ever tasted (yes. EVER.), and requires some advanced preparation (hello, delicious buttermilk marinade) BUT can give you enough leftover chicken and veggies to make the rest of the week's meals a breeze.
This is the kind of dish that I like to make on a Sunday afternoon when I can shut myself in the kitchen for a couple of hours and enjoy the process of making really good food that will, at least partially, sustain us for the rest of the week.
Because, yes, you could make a small amount of cajun chicken and veggies. But, making a little of this dish is almost the same amount of work as making a lot. And, this chicken is so good. I mean... SO GOOD. So are all the veggies. Why would you only want to eat it once?
10 Delicious Reasons to Deliberately Make Leftover Cajun Chicken:
- Chicken Lettuce Wraps. If you have cooked chicken, you’re halfway to eating a plate full of the most deliciously addicting chicken lettuce wraps.
- Creamy Chicken and Rice. This comforting recipe can be whatever you want it to be and is a delicious way to use up all sorts of meats and veggies hanging out in your refrigerator - like leftover cajun chicken and veggies.
- Chicken Salad Nicoise or Chicken Chopped Salad or Roast Chicken Salad. There's Chicken Salad (always delicious), and then there's Chicken Salad made with tender Cajun Chicken (fan-freaking-tastic). Also a good way to use up some of those yummy leftover red peppers, potatoes, and asparagus.
- Chicken Tortilla Soup. When I wrote the recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup, I wrote, "I’m not sure it’s even possible to pack this Chicken Tortilla Soup with more flavor." Well, it is. Use leftover Cajun Chicken.
- Chicken Chimichurri Nachos. Swap out the chili marinate chicken for leftover Cajun Chicken and you'll be eating the most amazing nachos for dinner in less than 15 minutes.
- Creamy Chicken Chili. Skip the whole "cooking the chicken" step and just mix your leftover Cajun Chicken into the tomatillo sauce and get on with things.
- 20-Minute Garlic Chipotle Pasta. This dish makes a regular appearance at our house with or without the chicken. But, it's pretty much a guarantee if we have some leftover Cajun Chicken in the fridge.
- Chicken Enchilada Casserole. The most delicious cheese enchilada casserole requires just three ingredients: corn tortillas, lots (and lots!) of cheese, and a kick-ass red chili enchilada sauce. But, if you want to take an already great thing and make it even better (and who doesn't?), throw in some tender Cajun Chicken. Amazing.
If you happen to be making this as a part of Spring Meal Plan #3, leftover Cajun Chicken is a part of the plan. You'll use it to make Chicken Lettuce Wraps later in the week. Leftover roasted potatoes, red peppers, and asparagus will also be used later in the week, reheated and served alongside Rosemary Braised Steak Tips.
Here's what I'm saying: 90 minutes in the kitchen today will save quite a bit of time later in the week if you just go ahead and make a lot of chicken.
Buttermilk Soaked Chicken
When Samin Nosrat published her amazing book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, she included a recipe for Buttermilk Marinated Roast Chicken that schooled us all in the virtues of letting chicken soak in buttermilk for a loooooong time before cooking. As a baker, I know that buttermilk is magical in cakes, pancakes, muffins, and a wide variety of other baked treats, creating flavor and tenderness far better than other liquid ingredients.
I also knew that most fried chicken aficionados advocate for the chicken to be soaked in buttermilk before frying. I've tried it, and it does seem to make the chicken more tender and flavorful. But, before Samin's book, I'd never dared soak chicken in buttermilk for so long - like 24 hours, or more - or with so much salt.
But, as with so much in life, the genius of Samin's method is in its simplicity. When you get home from the market with your chicken, put it in a baking dish and cover it in salted buttermilk. In a day or two, when you go to cook your chicken, you will have the MOST tender, juicy flavorful chicken you've ever tasted. Really, truly. It makes THAT much of a difference.
Grits AND Potatoes?
Ok. I'll admit it. Including two starches in one meal is a bit over the top. But, I just couldn't make myself get rid of either one, so the recipe includes both. If you're really dead set against eating two starches in one meal, just leave one out. But, maybe an even better option is to just ignore whatever two starch rule you've got going on and make them both. Because...
A quick boil in salted water before roasting seasons the potatoes from the inside out and creates a gorgeously crisp exterior and melt-in-your-mouth creamy interior that is amazing with this roasted cajun chicken. BUT (there's that word again), the combination of cheesy, creamy grits with spicy sautéed greens and tender chicken is just so perfect that I couldn't bear the idea of not including it.
Cajun Spice Rub
If you'd prefer to use a good prepared cajun spice rub from your local market or spice shop, go right ahead. But, mixing up your own requires only a handful of spices and allows you greater control of how spicy and salty it is. Since, I'm kind of a control freak in the kitchen, I almost always make my own.
If you follow suit, be sure to take a little taste of the cajun spice rub before massaging it into the chicken and vegetables, adjusting the amount of cayenne or any of the other spices at will.
Cajun Roasted Vegetables
For this recipe, you'll roast the chicken and potatoes together and the red peppers and asparagus separately. You'll use the same pan, roasting the chicken and potatoes first and following with the asparagus and red peppers. Why can't you just roast everything on the same pan all at once? Two reasons...
- The Chicken and Potatoes will take about 45 minutes to roast. The peppers and asparagus will only take about 10 minutes.
- The delicious liquid that will collect in the bottom of the pan while the chicken and potatoes cook will be use to cook the Swiss chard - something you can do while the peppers and asparagus are in the oven.
Used in this Recipe:
Weekly Meal Plans that include Sheet Pan Cajun Chicken and Vegetables:
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or take a picture and tag it #alittleandalot on Instagram.Print
Perfectly seasoned Cajun Chicken & potatoes with plenty of veggies and Cheesy Grits. The MOST tender and flavorful chicken and melt-in-your-mouth potatoes.
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 4 tablespoons + 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 12 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
- 3-4 lbs red potatoes, washed, unpeeled, and cut into quarters
- 1 recipe Cajun Chicken Spice Rub
- 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 large red bell peppers, seeds removed and cut into 1-inch wide slices
- 2 lbs asparagus: snap in half and discard bottom portion of the stalk
- 1 shallot, minced
- ½ jalapeño, minced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 to 6 cups swiss chard (or spinach or kale), leaves removed from the stalks
- 1 medium lemon, cut in half
- 1 recipe Cheesy Grits
- Stir 2 tablespoons of the salt into the buttermilk. Lay the chicken in a 9x13 rectangle baking dish. Pour the buttermilk over the chicken and turn the chicken to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 36. (At least 24 hours is best.)
- Prep your ingredients before you begin: wash and cut the potatoes into quarters, mix up the Cajun Chicken Spice Rub, wash and slice red bell peppers, break asparagus spears in half, mince shallot, jalapeño, and garlic, and tear the Swiss chard leaves from the stalks.
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees and line a large sheet pan with aluminum foil or parchment.
- Fill a large saucepan about ⅔ full of water. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the quartered potatoes and boil for 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander in the sink, leaving them to cool a bit while you prep the chicken.
- Lay chicken thighs out on paper towels and blot the excess buttermilk (Don't try and get them dry. Just blot the excess.). Lay the chicken out on the sheet pan and sprinkle with a generous amount of Cajun Chicken Spice Rub rubbing the spices into the chicken. Flip the chicken pieces over and repeat on the other side so that they are completely covered in spices.
- Put the potatoes back into the pan you boiled them in and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 teaspoons Cajun Spice Rub. Toss to coat the potatoes in oil and seasoning. Spread the potatoes in a single layer on the sheet pan next to the chicken. Sprinkle with about ½ teaspoon more salt. (No need to wash out the pan yet - you can use it for asparagus and red peppers.)
- Place the pan inside the preheated oven and roast for 45 - 50 minutes. (To know if the chicken and potatoes are done, poke a fork into one of the potatoes to see if it's tender. Cut into one piece of chicken, close to the bone. If the juices run clear and the inside of the chicken isn't pink, the chicken is done.)
While the chicken and potatoes are cooking:
- Add the red bell pepper pieces and asparagus to the same bowl you used to season the potatoes and add 1 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning, and 1 teaspoon salt. Toss the vegetables around inside the bowl to thoroughly coat with the oil and spices.
- Prepare cheesy grits.
When the chicken and potatoes are done cooking:
- Remove chicken and potatoes from the oven and turn the temperature up to 450 degrees. Put the pieces of chicken and potatoes on a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour about 3 tablespoons of the liquid from the sheet pan into a large skillet or sauce pan. Discard any remaining liquid that's in the sheet pan. Discard the foil or parchment liner and re-line with a fresh sheet.
- Dump the red peppers and asparagus on the same sheet pan you cooked the chicken and potatoes on and spread the vegetables out into an single layer. Put the pan back in the oven and roast for about 10 minutes, just until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
- Place the pan with the chicken cooking liquid on a burner set to medium. Add the minced shallot, jalapeño, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the Swiss chard and sauté, stirring often, until the greens are wilted, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the greens with some salt and the juice from one half of the fresh lemon. Toss to coat.
- When the peppers and asparagus are fork tender, but still crisp, remove them from the oven. Squeeze the juice from the other half of the fresh lemon juice over the cooked red peppers and asparagus and toss to coat.
TO SERVE: Spoon some Cheesy Grits on a plate. Top the grits with a spoonful of Swiss chard and a piece of chicken. Serve potatoes, asparagus, and red peppers alongside the chicken and grits.