Monday, February 28, 2011
Chicken skin is an interesting thing. When it's crispy, it's oh so delectable. (Not healthy, delectable.). When it's rubbery, it's, well, rubbery and pretty gross to be perfectly honest. Sometimes I struggle to get the crispiness to stay until I serve the meal. So this particular recipe made me raise an eyebrow in my oh-so-skeptical way. Crispy... really?
The chicken is browned in a pan and then finished in the oven. If you get it good and crisp on the stovetop, the 400 degree blazing hot oven will do the rest and you will have the poultry version of bacon to crunch away on. (And if you have leftovers like we did, reheat the dish covered in foil until it's warm, then crank the broiler on to crisp it up. Worked like a charm in my countertop oven...)
Oh there's more to this dish than chicken skin. There are lush slightly squished potatoes, silky skinless tomatoes and plenty of oregano. I finished it with a drizzle of my super special Portuguese Extra Virgin Olive oil. Jeff placed it among the top chicken dishes I've ever made. Go figure - I picked it because it sounded pretty easy, so his reaction was a pleasant bonus.
The original calls for fresh oregano. I didn't have any so I used dried Greek oregano - I find the taste milder than Italian. I'll try this one again during the summer when my oregano needs a good lesson (it keeps trying to take over my herb garden).
Crispy and sticky chicken thighs with smashed new potatoes and cherry tomatoes
adapted from Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver
1 3/4 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed
12 chicken thighs, skin on, preferably free-range or organic
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 pounds cherry tomatoes, different shapes and colors if you can find them
1 bunch fresh oregano, leaves picked (or about 1 tsp. dried, preferably Greek)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (optional)
Put the potatoes into a large saucepan of salted boiling water and boil until cooked.
While the potatoes are cooking, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place chicken thighs in a bowl. Rub the meat all over with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss.
Heat a large frying pan, big enough to hold all the chicken pieces snugly in 1 layer, and put the chicken into the pan, skin side down. If you don't have a pan that's big enough, feel free to cook the chicken in 2 batches. Toss and fry over a high heat for 10 minutes or so, until almost cooked, then remove with a slotted spoon to an ovenproof pan or dish. (I used one pan for stove and oven - I just drained the grease after cooking the chicken)
Prick the tomatoes with a sharp knife. Place them in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for a minute or so. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, pinch off their skins. You don't have to, but by doing this they will become lovely and sweet when cooked, and their intense flavor will infuse the potatoes. By now the potatoes will be cooked. Drain them in a colander and lightly crush them by pushing down on them with your thumb.
Bash up most of the oregano leaves with a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar, or a Flavor Shaker if you have one. Add 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, a good splash (about 1 Tbsp.) of red wine vinegar and some pepper and give everything another bash. Add to the chicken with the potatoes, the tomatoes and the rest of the oregano leaves. Sprinkle with the garlic powder. Toss everything together carefully. Spread out in a single layer in an appropriately sized roasting pan or back in your original pan, and bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven until golden.
Finish with a drizzle of good Extra Virgin olive oil.