Gluten- and Dairy-Free Living - Baked Chicken and Millet with Sweet Potatoes and Walnuts

A friend of mine recently shared that she will be cutting both dairy and gluten out of her diet for the next year.  She is the third friend of mine to make the decision to cut gluten out of her diet, a decision that I'm sure is a difficult one to make, but that has become increasingly common.  I grew up with a dairy intolerance myself and rarely eat dairy these days, so I understood the challenges of that limitation firsthand.

As I thought about foods that she might want to introduce to her diet and recipes that could help ease the transition, I thought of the great Autumn Millet Bake recipe by Mark Bittman.  I love this recipe, but  it's not quite filling enough to make it a full meal (other than enjoying the leftovers for breakfast).  I wanted to create a recipe that would be a perfect one-pot dinner for a busy mom with diet restrictions.

I think this is it - healthy, delicious, gluten-free, dairy-free, and super affordable.  Millet is as cheap as rice (less than $2 per pound in the bulk section), and the chicken pieces can be swapped out for whatever is on sale (I got this great pair of bone-in, skinless chicken breasts on sale, but you may find chicken thighs or drumsticks to be cheaper).  You don't even need to use broth for the liquid because the chicken will infuse the millet with all its juices as it cooks.

The end result tastes remarkably similar to a Thanksgiving meal.  The millet takes on the flavors of the meat and aromatics like a great batch of stuffing (my favorite part of every Thanksgiving dinner).  The sweet potatoes lend a sweet richness to the dish, and the chicken breasts are perfectly cooked through and tender.

Give it a try, whether you're gluten-free, dairy-free, or just plain hungry.

Baked Chicken and Millet with Sweet Potatoes and Walnuts (4 servings)

1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, one sprig chopped and one cut in half
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup millet
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper
1 medium sweet potato, chopped into 1-inch pieces 
2 large chicken breasts, skinless, bone-in (or 1 lb. of chicken pieces)
1/3 cup raw walnuts or almonds, chopped 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Saute onion, carrots, and celery in olive oil 5-10 minutes at medium-low heat in a Dutch oven or other covered, oven-save pot.  Add chopped rosemary, thyme, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Stir to coat vegetables in spices and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes longer.  Add the millet to the vegetables and stir.  Allow millet to cook for 2-3 minutes, but not allowing the millet to brown.

Add 2 cups of water to the millet and vegetables.  Add the chopped sweet potato on top of the millet/vegetable mixture.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place on top of the sweet potatoes. Split the other rosemary sprig, and place each piece on top of one chicken breast.  Cover with the lid.

Bake covered at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and turn the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Remove the lid and check to see if the millet is cooked fully.  If the millet is not fully cooked (hard to bite into), add about 1/4 cup of water.   

Add the nuts to the top the chicken, drizzle the top with a bit of olive oil, and cook about 10 more minutes until the top is slightly browned and the millet is fully cooked.  

Serve warm or at room temperature. 


  1. Awesome recipe! This dish was even more delicious than it looked.