We lived for two months in our new house without a functional oven. We coped well, adapting several recipes for the stovetop, slow cooker, or grill. Now that we have a new oven, it’s almost more difficult to prepare dinner. We’re asking ourselves not only what should we make for dinner, but also how should we make it?
Should the local, all natural, free-range chicken I just picked up at Hen House be braised, sautéed, stir fried, baked, or roasted? After living without an oven, naturally I would choose a technique that I hadn’t employed in months. But what is the difference between baking and roasting?
Most people who cook intuitively know the answer to this question, but have difficulty putting it into words. I know that baked potatoes and roasted potatoes are very different, but what distinguishes them? According to The New Food Lover’s Companion (which I fondly refer to as the “Google Book”), “The primary differentce between baking and roasting is that the latter is typically done at higher heats, requires fat and isn’t covered.”
The Companion goes on to say that roasting is “a method that ideally produces a well-browned exterior and a moist interior.” After reading that, the choice for my Good Natured Family Farms chicken was clear. The most memorable roasted chicken recipe in my binder (from Gourmet, of course) is for separated legs roasted with a combination of sweet, fresh tomatoes, and salty, sun-dried tomatoes. The vegetables in this recipe are outstanding and, I imagine, could be roasted without the chicken.
Provencal Chicken and Tomato Roast
2 chicken legs, separated into thighs and drumsticks
3 Tbs olive oil, divided
2 plum tomatoes, quartered
2 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 red potatoes, cut into ¼-inch half moons
¾ cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 pieces sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, cut into slivers
10 Kalamata olives, pitted and whole
¼ cup water
Place a large, 4-sided, metal sheet pan in the oven and pre-heat to 475.
Toss chicken with 1 Tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss plum tomatoes, celery, and potatoes with 2 Tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place the chicken, skin side down, on one half of the sheet pan. Place the oiled vegetables on the other half of the pan. Roast for 20 minutes.
Turn the chicken and roast 15 minutes more.
Scatter the cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives over the vegetables. Drizzle with ¼ cup of water. Roast 10-15 minutes more, or until chicken is done.