This time of year I look for excuses to turn on the oven and enjoy a warmer kitchen in the evenings. This dish is one for busy nights where all I want to do is have a glass of wine and not think of doing dishes. The skin gets beautifully crisp (perhaps my favorite part of the bird), and the vegetables soak up lots of flavor. Garlic, wine, and spices make a rich sauce that’s greater than the sum of its parts, and perfect with bread.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Pat the skin of the chicken dry and rub with salt and a light coat of oil. Place skin side down in a cold skillet and bring the heat up to medium (this will help avoid shrinking or tearing the skin, which can happen with a hot skillet). Cook until the skin is brown and mostly crisp (about 8 minutes). Place the vegetables in a microwave safe bowl and cook, covered, for 6 minutes, stirring once halfway through, to soften them.
Flip the chicken pieces and move them to the side, add the fat and the vegetables to the skillet, distribute evenly, and rest the chicken on top of the vegetables. Combine the wine, stock, and spices in the same bowl you used for the vegetables, and heat in the microwave until warm (about 3 minutes). Allow the vegetables to cook in the pan for 3-4 minutes, then add the liquid (carefully so as not to get any on the chicken skin).
Place in the oven and cook until an instant read thermometer reads 165°F in the thickest part of the chicken (for thighs), or 150°F (for breasts). Turn off your oven and allow the chicken to rest with the oven door open, for 5 minutes.
Mash the garlic cloves with a fork and stir to thicken the sauce. Salt to taste. Serve in individual bowls or eat straight from the pan. Great with toasted bread and the rest of your bottle of wine.
Variations & Ideas:
Change up your vegetables. The chicken generally takes about 20 minutes in the oven so it's all about experimenting and timing the vegetables to get it all done at the same time. It's a great way to use up veggies in the fridge.
A few ideas from my brother Patrick:
Kale, savoy cabbage, garlic, and anchovies, finish with grated parmigiano reggiano and peperoncino
Chestnuts, pears, currant raisins, and cauliflower with Massalis
Swiss chard, radishes, and seared lemon quarters with Ana.
This recipe is great in the summer with fruit instead of root vegetables. Substitute the vegetables with an assortment of firm-fleshed:
Peaches, apricots, plums, cherries, grapes, plus a large handful of chopped red onion (no garlic), but do not microwave. Use Mishmish or Tangier in the liquid and reduce the wine to 1/2 cup. Can be cooked either in the oven as above, or covered, at a simmer, on the stovetop (in the latter case remove and set aside the skin so it stays crisp). Finish with red wine vinegar and chestnut honey and serve with cilantro, mint, and yogurt rice.
For this you'll want to use skinless boneless chicken cut into small pieces. Sauté these in butter or chicken fat until browned, then push the pieces to the side and sauté chopped onion until soft, add flour and cook to form a roux, then add chicken stock, chopped carrots, peas, and whatever other vegetables you like, stirring until thickened. Great spices to add include Luberon, Vadouvan, or Blue Grass. Top with drop biscuits or puff pastry, and bake until crisp and browned.
Omit the carrot and potato, double the shallots, mushrooms, and chicken (so 8 thighs, 4 breasts, or just a whole bird cut up), halve the garlic. Sear the chicken as usual, then remove the skin and set it aside. Add your fat and sauté the shallots and garlic for a few minutes, deglaze with cognac or armagnac, then add the stock and wine (my favorite for this is tart and mineral rich German Riesling) and cover. Cook in a 350°F oven for 1 hour. Towards the end of the cooking time sauté the mushrooms in another skillet (add about 1/4 cup water at the beginning, it will speed browning later), once the liquid has evaporated add a little bit of fat and Pierre Poivre and cook until well browned. Stir the mushrooms together with the braised chicken and add crème fraîche until you form a thick sauce. You can also use an additive-free full-fat sour cream but it will not be as silky due to the lower fat content. Perfect with Bernise roasted potatoes, which you can cook in the same oven while you braise. Garnish with the crisp skin and chopped fresh parsley and/or herbs. Serves 4.