The other day I realized that it’s almost September and I still haven’t supplied you with a tomato recipe! We’ve had almost a month of solid tomato growing time and I have been keeping all of my tomatoes and clever tips, tricks and recipes all to myself! Could I be anymore selfish? What’s worse is that we’ve come upon the time when you’ve had enough of tomato salads and toasted tomatoes sandwiches and you’re looking for anything, just anything other than the two aforementioned common practices when consuming this luscious fruit. Don’t get me wrong, eating tomatoes in their purest form, in the height of their season can be completely soul satisfying especially when after 10 months of rubbery, tasteless, mealy, pinkish tomato impostors seem to be the only thing available. But, if you have a garden you know that there is just no physical way possible to eat 20 pounds of tomatoes a week in salad and sandwiches alone. Thus, the need for more creative and a little more labour intensive, but still relatively easy techniques, are needed to be employed to transform these jewels into something truly special.
So far I have made “Sweet Cherry Tomato and Sausage Bake,” (Jamie at Home) which is similar to this the dish that I am showcasing today, but sans potatoes and the tomatoes are roasted than reduced to a sweet and chunky sauce to accompany the sausages. ”Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup,” (Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics) a beautiful rustic soup that falls somewhere in between smooth and chunky, is packed with fresh basil and finished with a little cream – delish! Countless bowls of Panzanella, an Italian bread and tomato salad, where chunks of dried bread are tossed with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, basil and garlic and soak up all of the delicious juice and flavour. I also made a huge pot of sauce that I simmered for over six hours and canned for my husband so he can make dinner for me once in while – heating up a jar of sauce and boiling some pasta is about as far as he goes in the kitchen. But my favourite tomato dish by far and one that I’ve made at least three times in the past month is the one I am sharing with you today: Roasted Chicken Thighs with New Potatoes and Cherry Tomatoes.
This is such a fantastic recipe for many, many reasons. First and foremost, it’s a one pan meal. Yes, you have to boil the potatoes and sear the chicken thighs beforehand, so that accounts for three pots and or pans – big deal!. I don’t know about you, but the reason why I love one pan meals is not because you only have to use one pot to make your meat, starch and veg, but the fact that all three components cook together; each one releasing their individual flavours, mixing with the other and making a whole new and utterly delicious finale. Reason number two why I love this recipe so much is that you can use any kind of tomato you have on hand. While the recipe does call for cherry tomatoes, chunks of beefsteak, plum, yellow zebra or a mixture of all three or any kind for that matter, work just as well; therefore, it’s a great way to use up all of those tomatoes that have been sitting around. Third reason: potatoes plus meat drippings and flavourings makes for the tastiest potatoes you will ever eat. Just think of the potatoes as little sponges soaking up all of the surrounding flavours of the chicken, tomatoes, oregano and garlic. I’m salivating just thinking of it. Finally, this dish employs my favourite part of the chicken, the thighs! Forget breasts, the thighs are where it’s at! The tender and succulent thigh meat is simply more flavourful than the high and mighty breast and is why this cut reigns supreme in my kitchen!
So I hope this dish will redeem me for being a bad food blogger and neglecting to share a recipe that glorifies the humble, but ever so abundant tomato. And I hope that it’ll inspire all of you tomato sandwich and salad eating people out there to step outside of your box and see just how great it is to cook with fresh tomatoes.
Roasted Chicken Thighs with New Potatoes and Cherry Tomatoes
When making this recipe don’t feel like you need to follow the measurements closely. If you only have 1/2 pound of tomatoes and 6 chicken breasts, don’t feel like you have to run to the store to buy more, fearing the dish may not turn out because you didn’t have the appropriate quantities. Use whatever you have at home; more or less is completely fine. It’s the ingredients, not the amount that makes this meal shine.
A note on the olive oil. You will notice that I have “olive oil” and “extra virgin olive oil” listed below. Don’t use your best and most expensive extra virgin olive oil to sear your thighs; save that for the dressing and the finishing drizzle at the end. Simply use a less expensive olive oil when pan frying the chicken, as the high heat will ruin the good stuff.
Adapted from “Crispy and Sticky Chicken Thighs with Squashed New Potatoes and Tomatoes,” Jamie at Home, by Jamie Oliver
Serves 4 to 6
1 3/4 new potatoes, scrubbed
12 boned, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 pounds cherry tomatoes, or assorted tomatoes
3 to 4 stems of fresh oregano, leaves picked
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
Boil the potatoes in a large saucepan of salted water until cooked.
While the potatoes are cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees farenheit. Prick the tomatoes with a sharp knife, place them in a bowl and cover with boiling water for a minute or two. Drain and when cooled slightly, remove the skins by simply pinching the tomatoes. If the tomatoes are not fully ripe the skin may not come off as easily; don’t fuss, a little tomato skin is not a big deal. Toss the tomatoes with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper, begin the roasting process while you prepare the chicken and potatoes.
In a bowl, drizzle the chicken breasts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large frying pan, big enough to hold all of the chicken in a single layer. If you do not have a pan that will accommodate all of the chicken at once, than you can sear it off in batches. Cook the chicken on both sides until golden and remove to a plate.
Using a mortar and pestle, bash the oregano leaves and garlic with some coarse sea salt until it makes a paste. Drizzle in about a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar and combine. Set aside.
When the potatoes are tender, drain them and lightly squish them by using the flat end of a mallet, just until the potato cracks. The next thing you want to do is deglaze the pan you cooked the chicken in. Reheat the pan and pour in a couple of glugs of red wine vinegar. Scrape up any of the bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. Remove the tomatoes from the oven. By now, they should have begun to release their juices. Pour in some of the tomato juice from the roasting dish into the frying pan and stir. Add the potatoes and toss gently to coat the potatoes in the pan sauce. Put the potatoes and chicken thighs in the roasting pan, along with the tomatoes and drizzle everything in the oregano and garlic dressing. Toss to combine and spread out in an even layer. Roast for 40 minutes until the chicken and potatoes are golden and the tomatoes have begun to break down. Serve immediately.