Tuesday, January 25, 2011

CSA week seven - roast chicken and cherry tomatoes

When I looked around for recipes (excluding salads) using cherry tomatoes, most all I found agreed that roasting them was the way to go. That was the extent of many recipes, but this one, which I found at Epicurious but appears to have originated in Bon Appétit, goes a little bit further to good result. Still very easy and straightforward, though. It seems rather forgiving of variation so I've vagued it up a bit.

2 chicken breasts with ribs or large chicken thighs
several garlic gloves, crushed and minced or pressed
1 handful of fresh herbs [I used marjoram and basil]
generous crushed red pepper
several Tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, stemmed and washed [I supplemented the 8 ounces from the CSA with some small local heirloom tomatoes from the farmer's market.]

0. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

1. Season the chicken, heat a cast iron pan and brown the skin side of the chicken in a little oil. Remove, skin-side up, to an 8"x11" baking pan.

2. Mix the garlic, herbs, red pepper and a few pinches of salt with the olive oil in a large bowl. Add tomatoes and toss.

3. Pour the tomato mixture over the chicken so that the tomatoes array themselves into a single layer around them, the chicken is coated in oil and some bits of garlic and herbs remain on top of the skin.

4. Bake until chicken reaches 160 degrees, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes for internal temperature to reach 165. Crush the tomatoes a little if they haven't collapsed.

Top with a little more fresh herbs and serve with crusty bread or some other starch to soak up the sauce.

I didn't brine or prep the chicken in any way so the meat is your usual underwhelming experience that is chicken, but there are a couple of real highlights here. First, the skin with the caramelized edges and crispy bits of baked on garlic is darn good eating. Second, the sauce, made of garlic and herb infused oil, chicken drippings and roast tomato is pretty fabulous too.

I probably could have used a larger pan and roasted some sliced potatoes too. Or turnips maybe. I'll see what I've got on hand next time we get cherry tomatoes.

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