Sometimes a meal rolls around that during the smell leading up to it and while enjoying it all M and I can manage to do is keep repeating how completely awesome it is. We can’t seem to form one other singular thought. New. recipe. trance.
‘Top 3 for sure’ according to M. He put it right up there with this and this, which is no small accomplishment. A lot of ‘yums’ and ‘wows’ were also exchanged during the meal, on top of a lot of silence. Silence is always good. I love silence.
So what is all the fuss about? I was trying to focus on the best part of this recipe to highlight in my writing but there are just too many best parts.
Is it the way the bread crisps up that’s not too soft and not too hard? How about the way the tomatoes get to the point of just bursting so that some of their juice runs onto the bread and makes it softer but in a perfectly non soggy way?
Then there’s that skin on the chicken. Perfectly browned and crisp. Speaking of crispy, there’s that pancetta that sits down on top of the chicken and gives the whole dish an ever so slightly smokey flavor…
Let’s keep going. Roasted garlic cloves. What is better than spreading soft roasted garlic onto bites of bread and chicken? I sure can’t think of much. And let’s not forget those olives. I splurged – they were nice olives and totally worth it. Little hidden gems in this dish. Highlighted by the freshness and pretty pop of green color from the basil.
Do you see my problem here? Everything was perfect. This is the answer to your winter dinner party question. Put the big roasting tray on the table oh so rustic style along the side of a beautiful cheese platter and some chilled buttery Chardonnay. Look at how fancy you are.
Oh wait – it hit me. I knew I’d get there. The best part? L made about 90% of this meal as my hands were full of B. Yep, it’s that easy.
- 1 ciabatta loaf
- 2 big handfuls of cherry tomatoes
- 1 big handful of the best olives you can afford
- 1 big garlic bulb
- fresh basil
- one whole cut up fryer chicken
- good olive oil
- salt & pepper
- red chili flakes
- 8 slices of pancetta
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large roasting pan, rip up a ciabatta loaf and throw it in. Along with it goes two big handfuls of cherry tomatoes, one big handful of the best olives you can afford and one big garlic bulb broken into cloves, skin still on.
- Tear up some fresh basil and sprinkle throughout.
- Pat one whole cut up fryer chicken pieces as dry as possible and lay them on top of the roasted pan. (see picture)
- Over everything, pour a generous amount of good olive oil, salt & pepper, and a sprinkle of red chili flakes. Toss with your hands and then reposition chicken on top.
- Roast for 30 minutes. Remove and reposition chicken and roast another 30. Take out and place 8 slices of pancetta on top of the chicken skin and roast 15 minutes more.
- At this point your chicken will be cooked through. I switched the broiler on at the end to crisp up the pancetta and chicken skin a bit. Feel free to do this, or even brown this chicken skin before putting in the oven. If you go this route, I'd cut back the cooking time a bit.
- Before serving, add a few fresh basil leaves for color.
Oh la la!