chicken calabrese

Serves:
4 to 6    |   
Prep Time:
15 minutes    |   
Cook Time:
1 hour

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chicken calabrese

Everyone is searching for that magic recipe, one that you throw together, walk away from, and dinner is done. Well, I have found it in the one-pan dish that comes from Italy, which means it’s elegantly simple: a few ingredients roasted until each flavor brings out the best in the other. The chicken is juicy; the vegetables almost jammy. It is the masterwork of Rosetta Costantino from her cookbook, My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy’s Undiscovered South. Last week, I joined a cooking class with Rosetta and her inimitable mom, Maria (who after 37 years in the US, still declines to speak English), and while I was proud of the pasta I helped roll by hand on a wooden dowel, it’s this chicken dish that I will make over and over. The tomatoes need to be truly ripe, so heirlooms are perfect. If it’s not tomato time of year, use Roma or hot-house tomatoes. Costantino uses Calabrian peppers to season this; a combination of paprika and cayenne works just as well.

ingredients

4 chicken legs, divided into thighs and drumsticks (see note)
kosher salt
freshly ground  pepper
1-1/2 lb Yukon gold potatoes
3/4 lb ripe tomatoes
1 large yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or 1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp sweet paprika
pinch cayenne

directions

Preheat oven to 450°F. Sprinkle the chicken generously with salt and pepper and set aside.

Cut the potatoes into 2-inch chunks (do not peel). Core the tomatoes and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Halve the onion and slice about 1/2-inch thick. Peel and halve the garlic cloves. In a large bowl, combine the vegetables with the oregano and olive oil. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt and several grindings of pepper and mix well. With a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a baking dish large enough to hold them in one layer, such as a 9×13-inch glass or ceramic dish. Put the chicken in the bowl used for the vegetables and turn chicken to coat it in the oil and herbs left behind (if necessary, drizzle in a little more oil). Place the chicken skin side up on top of the vegetables in the dish and sprinkle with paprika and cayenne.

Bake on bottom rack of the oven until skin is crisp and golden, about 35 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over and continue to bake until the chicken juices run clear, potatoes are tender and pan juices are absorbed, 20 to 30 minutes more. Serve immediately.

note: you can use a cut-up whole chicken for this recipe, but the breast meat will cook faster and should be removed earlier.