Dani Goes South.

Herb-Roasted Chicken with Croutons, Cherry Tomatoes, Lemon & Leeks

DinnersDani ColombattoComment
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What is more Friday dinner than roasted chicken? If you're asking Ina Garten, the answer would emphatically be, "Nothing!!!" (Also probably insert something about Jeffrey/also, "how easy is that?", etc). This recipe idea arrived while watching Barefoot Contessa during a little bout of cat insomnia. AKA my cat is apparently a Beverly Hills Real Housewife who will only eat 12 small meals a day, and he will LET YOU KNOW when it needs to happen. *snaps cat fingers* "Excuse me...Hun? When you get a minute..." That's what I imagine his inner dialogue is. So condescending... I would be more annoyed, but he is the cutest dang alarm clock. Like a fluffy little baby carrot...He's orange. I digress. Less cat more chicken!

Like I was saying, Ina inspired this recipe. I believe if you google the OG recipe it's called "Million Dollar Chicken", and it was conceptualized by a chef in NY. Since I'm not in a mood for butchery, and I don't own a blazing prehistoric oven, I adapted this little number to be SO easy, but it still feels Friday fancy, and dare I say, V-day approved.

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If you're a fan of all things caramelized, or have been known to be a sheet-pan-picker (I see you), this is ONE HUNDO made for your soul. Let's get into it. 

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Preheat your oven to 425F.

The goodness of this dish starts from the ground up. First, we lay a foundation of our baguette slices around the surface area of our cast iron skillet (If you don't have a cast iron, substitute a good, heavy-bottomed pan). Sprinkle your chopped leek and garlic cloves atop your bread. Next, season your chicken. In this application, I used 4 leg quarters, but I have made this dish with everything from a whole chicken, to a whole broken down chicken, to bone-in thighs and bone-in breasts. The key is to make sure whatever you're using is bone-in, because that is what helps retain a lot of the moisture, and with a bed of bread in a 425F oven, you'll want that moisture. 

Next, season your chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper, and freshly chopped rosemary. Place your chicken in an even layer atop your bread, leeks, and garlic. Next sprinkle in your halved cherry tomatoes, lemon slices, and thyme sprigs around any gaps in the pan. Add one final drizzle of olive oil around all of your veggies in your pan. 

For your basting mixture, melt 3 tablespoons butter on medium low, and add 1/4 cup dry white wine and a sprinkling of salt, if using unsalted butter. Brush onto chicken and veggies every 15 minutes. After your second baste, mix together 2 tablespoons creme fraiche, or sour cream, 3 tablespoons your white wine butter, and a slight sprinkle of salt and pepper. Remove the chicken, and lower oven to 375F. Brush your creme fraiche glaze onto your chicken, and bake an additional 20 minutes, or until internal temperature registers 160F. 

The creme fraiche glaze is key because the milk solids help that chicken achieve a final, beautiful golden brown at the end of cooking. Throw together a lil' green salad if your heart so desires, and you are SO ready for this. 

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The thing that makes this so delicious is the way the white wine butter seeps into the chicken, and the butter and chicken juices soak into your croutons that get a beautiful crust on the bottom. The cherry tomatoes, lemons, and leeks get beautifully caramelized and charred. It's like chicken, stuffing, and vegetables all in one, but it feels decidedly more special. The most labor intensive part of this dinner is basting, and that's a flick of the wrist. Get this baby in your repertoire, stat, and be ready for a flood of compliments.

Roasted Lemon Herb Chicken with Croutons, Cherry Tomatoes, & Leeks

(Serves 4-5)

4 quartered chicken legs

1 baguette, sliced in about 3/4" slices

1 leek, chopped,

1 dozen cherry tomatoes, halved

5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 a lemon, thinly sliced

2 sprigs rosemary, chopped

6 sprigs thyme

3 tbs butter

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 tbs creme fraiche, or sour cream

Olive oil

Salt & pepper