By Linda Viertel–
A simply prepared roast chicken was Julia Child’s favorite dish, and she’s not alone. When the skin is crunchy, and the meat flavorful “(au point”- just barely cooked – so as not to dry out), and if surrounded by flavorful vegetables braising in chicken juices, there is nothing more delicious one can have for dinner. And such an easy “one-pot” dish to prepare!
The following recipe, a “take” on one by Alison Roman, slowly bakes the chicken, stuffed with fresh oregano. It is surrounded by ripe tomatoes (you can use quartered vine-ripened tomatoes, cherry or Juliet tomatoes), garlic cloves, topped with butter and more oregano. It’s a one dish meal when served with toasted ciabatta or a peasanty bread, or even a side of pasta over which you pour the jammy tomatoes, redolent with garlic and tasting of butter- infused rendered chicken juices.
As always, an organic chicken, fresh oregano, vine-ripened tomatoes (from our farmers markets or your own backyards) will enhance the taste immeasurably.
Slow Roasted Oregano Chicken with Buttered Tomatoes
Adapted from Alison Roman (Serves 4-6 depending upon chicken size.)
1 3½-to-4 lbs. whole chicken (3 lbs. is fine also)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ c. olive oil
1-1½ tablespoons fennel seeds crushed in a mortar and pestle or spice mill
1 bunch fresh oregano
1½ pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (halve medium tomatoes, quarter larger tomatoes, or poke cherry or Juliet tomatoes to help release juices)
1 full head garlic cloves – skin can be left on the cloves
2-3 tablespoons butter cut into pieces
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4-to-6 1-inch slices of good country bread toasted or pasta(optional)
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Massage olive oil into chicken skin, season with salt, pepper and sprinkle crushed fennel seeds over all. (If using a 3 lbs. chicken you might want to lessen crushed fennel seeds to one tablespoon, depending upon your taste.)
- Stuff cavity with a handful of fresh oregano and place chicken in large baking pan. Scatter all the tomatoes, garlic cloves, and remaining fresh oregano around the chicken, topping this veggie mixture with pieces of butter.
- Roast until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through, which could take 2½-to-3 hours. If the chicken isn’t browning at around 2½ hours, turn the oven up to 375 to brown it and cook for a few minutes at the higher temperature.
- Once the chicken is done and the juice runs clear, add the vinegar to the tomatoes, and let the chicken rest in the baking dish out of the oven for 10 minutes.
- Place toast (or pasta), if using, on each plate and spoon the jammy tomatoes and chicken juices over or around the toast or pasta. Carve the chicken and spoon up extra juices unto each plate with the chicken pieces.
NOTE: The chicken can be roasted a few hours ahead because it’s still delicious at room temperature.