- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 25 minutes
- Serves 4
If you can brine chicken in buttermilk, marinate it in yogurt, or slather it in mayo—why not rub it in cream cheese? I found myself pondering that question recently when remembering my mother-in-law Monica’s slow-cooker recipe for cream cheese turkey breast (the same Monica behind these Sour Cream & Chive Mashed Potatoes). The idea: rub a mix of garden-style cream cheese, soy sauce, and butter all over a turkey breast, place it in a slow cooker with a little water, then let it cook all day. Every time she served it, the turkey was seriously good—juicy and tender and full of flavor—but my attempts to re-create it at home have always fallen flat and resulted in dry, stringy meat.
But cream cheese-rubbed chicken? I couldn’t shake the idea from my head, so I decided to give Monica’s recipe a little refresh (and make it weeknight doable in the process) while keeping the original spirit intact. Here’s what I did: Swapped boneless, skinless chicken thighs for turkey, added miso to the cream cheese to boost its umami, used fresh herbs to add dimension (though dried ones work in a pinch), and oven-roasted the thighs over a bed of mushrooms in a baking dish. Not only does the fat and lactic acid in the cream cheese keep the chicken juicy and tender, it melts together with the rendered chicken fat and water that cooks off from the mushrooms to create a lovely built-in pan sauce. Better yet, chicken thighs are far more forgiving than chicken (or turkey) breasts since they’re not as lean, so there’s no need to worry about dry, rubbery meat. I like to serve the chicken and mushrooms over buttered noodles, rice, or crusty bread to sop up all of the golden sauce. Or if you’re looking for a real weeknight treat, go for the mashed potatoes! —EmilyC
Test Kitchen Notes
It's the end of the long workday (or the start of an extra-long week) and we're hungry. Like, "can't-think-straight" hungry. Luckily, Food52 contributor EmilyC wants to do all the thinking for us. In Dinner's Ready, her twice-a-month column on weeknight wonders, Emily shares simple, flavor-packed recipes that'll have a good meal on the table in no time. —The Editors
plus 1 tablespoon (2¾ ounces) plain, full-fat cream cheese (either spread or bar form)
plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 1/2 tablespoons
miso (any variety)
fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
kosher salt, plus more
freshly ground black pepper, plus more
mushrooms (any variety), coarsely chopped into equal-sized chunks
1 3/4 to 2 pounds
skinless, boneless chicken thighs
finely chopped herbs, such as chives, parsley, or dill
Buttered noodles, rice, or crusty bread, for serving
Flaky sea salt, for serving (optional)
- Heat the oven to 425°F. In a small bowl, stir the cream cheese, oil, miso, thyme, soy sauce, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper until smooth and well combined. (Tip: If the cream cheese and miso are cold and hard to integrate, set the bowl in warm water, just high enough to come up the sides, until gently warmed.)
- Place the mushrooms in a 13-by-9-inch pan (or a similar sized baking dish). Toss with a few teaspoons of oil and 1 to 2 pinches of salt and pepper. Arrange in an even layer.
- Using your hands, rub the cream cheese mixture evenly over both sides of the chicken thighs, then arrange on top of the mushrooms in an even layer, without letting them overlap (they'll roast better this way).
- Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part should register 165°F) and lightly browned around the edges and the mushrooms are tender. (Note that you’ll be left with a lightly creamy, golden pan sauce, which is good! Don’t spoon this off!) If you want extra browning, feel free to run the pan under the broiler for a minute or two.
- Garnish the chicken and mushrooms with the herbs, and season with flaky sea salt, to taste. Serve warm with the noodles, rice, or bread on the side to sop up the sauce.