Roast Chicken is one of my very favorite foods. In fact, before we go any further, big thank yous go out to my Mom, who brought down 2 lovely air-chilled, actually CHICKENY-TASTING chickens for us to put in the freezer when they visited about a month ago. Huge help.
So I love Gourmet magazine, as I’ve already mentioned, and for some reason, the March 2008 issue was a big hit with me. Either that, or it was the only issue whose pages that I pulled out that actually survived. Regardless, this issue is amazing – it brought forth the Chicken in Riesling that I made a few weeks ago, as well as the Salmon with Lentils that we enjoyed with Alex in mind. PS – Did I mention she HIT HER FUNDRAISING GOAL?!?!?! Congrats to Alex and a big thank you to everybody who commented here, for helping us fight cancer. Thank you thank you.
So, a better roast chicken. I admit, I scoffed when I read it. Roast chicken is BASICALLY the best food ever. ANd of course I’ve made it a million different ways, but in typically the same method. Which means that the results have a small margin of difference, and are otherwise pretty consistent. But, in the March 2008 Gourmet, there was a recipe that caught my eye — Braised Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives, aka Poulet Provencal.
This is one of those recipes that could not be simpler. In fact, basically everything is inexpensive, and easily prepared. Basically, you slice up some tomatoes, onions, and garlic. You smash up a few black olives. If you want to get fancy, you could also slice up some fennel to add, although I didn’t do that. These items get mixed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbes de provence, and poured into a roasting pan.
Then, you mix together minced garlic, more HdP, more olive oil, salt, and pepper into a paste. This gets smeared all over inside and outside the chicken, after you wash and dry it thoroughly. I would recommend adding some lemon zest, for some nice freshness as well. Reportedly, you have to truss the chicken. I will be honest with you, and say that mine came pre-trussed, so I just looped the string back over the legs after I dried and seasoned the chicken. I see no reason to truss the chicken, although if it gives you a thrill, please feel free.
You put the chicken in the roasting pan with the tomatoes, onions, etc, pushed over to the sides. The whole shebang goes into the oven at 425, for roughly an hour, although checking for temperature (167 works for me) is the best way to tell when your chicken is done.
I had a mental lapse and did not photograph this dish, even though it was gorgeous. The chicken’s skin came out of the oven beautifully golden, and the vegetables produce this gorgeous liquid and get very soft. I made focaccia to go with it, but it was kind of lackluster. I need to work on this recipe more before I post it. HOWEVER, the slightly dry focaccia was great for sucking up the juices in the pan left from the slow cooking out of the olive oil-soaked tomatoes and olives and onions. The photo that Epicurious posts for this recipe also doesn’t show the chicken’s gorgeous golden skin, and I guess that makes sense since it disappeared pretty quickly here too. Probably by the time Epi’s photographer got out the camera, all that remained was the lovely oniony-tomatoey goodness at the bottom of the pan, which is …. well….. lovely.
This recipe legitimately comes together perfectly in 10 minutes, and when it comes out of the oven, you look like a genius. As the weather gets colder, sometimes it’s nice to remember that you can totally use canned tomatoes for this – just slice your whole peeled tomatoes up and add some of the juice from the can in there for added yum. In the comments on Epi, it also looks like some people managed to do this in a slow-cooker, although I prefer the crispy chicken skin, so I wouldn’t do this. Also, it might be interesting to baste the chicken with the accumulated pan juices every once in a while, to make sure that all the flavor goodness gets combined.
I have to say that this makes an excellent version of roast chicken, especially since it lets me roast olives. Yum!!!
Have a variation on roast chicken you think I should try? A disagreement? A tip? Throw it on over in the comments!