Friday, April 29, 2011

Roasted Chicken and Potatoes with Rosemary, Garlic, and Lemon

This is a perfect example of the power of a few simple, strong flavors that come together, mingle, and become something amazing.  My kitchen smelled ridiculously good while this was baking, and the taste lived up to it.  My cousin had emailed me this recipe a while ago, and I dutifully bookmarked it.  I looked at it periodically and thought about making it.  Then I got busy and forgot about it.

But last week, when a good friend of mine was in town and I was looking for something to make for dinner, I came back to it.  I tweaked and adapted, adding a little more of this and a little less of that.  And it was so good.  It's pretty simple to throw together, and the resulting lemon-rosemary-garlic flavor is wonderful (but not too overpowering - and you can add less or more of any of those elements).  You can use boneless skinless chicken breasts like I did (because that's what I had in my freezer) or you can use bone-in chicken with the skin on, if you prefer.  This recipe will forgive you for adjusting the ingredients according to your own tastes.

It's one of those dinners that looks and tastes kind of fancy, but is really quite low-maintenance in its preparation.  Just be careful to bake it just until the chicken is a little crispy, but not for too long, lest it get too dry.  And if you have leftovers, you can sprinkle a bit more lemon juice over it before heating it up again to keep it from drying out. 

My friend told me she was drooling all the way from the driveway, as she could smell this wafting from my house as soon as she got out of her car.  So, you should totally try out this recipe and see for yourself.  Just be aware that anyone within a certain radius of your house might show up at your door, demanding a taste.

Roasted Chicken and Potatoes with Rosemary, Garlic, and Lemon
Makes 3 - 4 servings

6 small red potatoes, cleaned
4 small boneless chicken breasts (you can use bone-in if you prefer), cut into large chunks
2 - 3 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary + 3 more whole sprigs (to taste)
3 - 5 cloves garlic, minced finely (to taste)
Juice of 2 lemons
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. olive oil
10 oz. sliced button or portabella mushrooms

Preheat oven to 450 F.  Line a baking dish with foil.

Place the potatoes in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil.  Boil for 8 minutes (until tender) and drain.  Slice  into halves or quarters and set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the chopped rosemary, the juice of one of the lemons, garlic, salt, cayenne pepper, and olive oil.  Place the chicken pieces in the bowl and toss to coat well.  Dump the entire thing (including the juice) into a skillet and cook the chicken over medium heat for about 5 - 8 minutes, until browned on all sides.  Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for 2 - 3 more minutes.  If your skillet is big enough, add the potatoes.  If not, remove the chicken-mushroom mixture to a large bowl and toss together with the potato pieces.

Pour the entire thing into your baking dish.  Sprinkle the juice of the other lemon over the entire thing and add the remaining sprigs of rosemary, tearing off large pieces to evenly distribute it around the pan.  Bake at 450 for 20 - 25 minutes or until the chicken is nicely browned (stir it a few times to coat with the juice while baking).  Remove from oven and serve with rice, flatbread, or another vegetable side dish.

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