Hey, it’s summer for another couple of months, but foggy evenings do lend themselves to roast chicken. I have been working on this recipe for a couple of weeks now, sort of blundering around in an experimental mode, & when it finally hit the mark, I realized that I was applying salad-making principles to roast chicken! No wonder it worked. If there’s one thing in the world I’m confident of, it’s my salad-making principles.
Key salad concepts as applied to sage roasted chicken:
1) Seasonal flexibility: you have your main ingredients that define the recipe—in this case, chicken legs, sage leaves, olive oil, shallots, & tiny taters—& then infinitely swappable supporting ingredients, depending on what comes home from the farmers market. I have used various kinds of summer squash, radishes (the little skinny long ones that are half pink & half white), treviso, carrots, flat-leaf parsley, & now am thinking about adding some kind of fruit. Perhaps figs.
2) One-dish meal: no need for pesky, distracting side dishes to round out your nutritional needs. There’s plenty of veggies in the pan. You can steam some brown rice to go with this (it soaks up the sauce deliciously), but the taters provide more than enough starch if you’re feeling extra-lazy (or extra-purist).
3) Good ingredients tossed in good dressing. If you get quality ingredients, your dressing is sound & your tossing thorough, you will have a good meal. No muss, no fuss.
So. The blow-by-blow for Sage Roasted Chicken:
6 chicken legs (here too, you can substitute your preferred chicken part, or a whole bird), rinsed & patted dry
Bunch of sage leaves (don’t be shy! Use a whole bunch!)
Tiny taters, no bigger than an inch. Most recently I used a mixture of German Butterballs & 2 different kinds of fingerlings.
Shallots, the more the better, but at the very least 2 large ones. Peel & cut in 2 or 3 pieces lengthwise.
Olive oil, butter, salt & pepper
Rotating cast of other ingredients:
Small summer squashes, preferably tiny sized, but if you get bigger ones you can halve or quarter them.
Treviso, quartered lengthwise
Any other veggie that roasts well
Any other herbs that play well with sage
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Warm a generous quantity of olive oil in a pan on the stove. Melt some butter in it too, & fry up the sage leaves. Don’t crowd the leaves too much; you can do them in batches if your pan is small. As the leaves get done, transfer them to your baking pan.
Add all your washed & cut veggies & chicken to the baking dish. Pour the sagey oil & butter all over everything, add salt & pepper, & toss like a salad! When everything is nicely coated, arrange things so the veggies form a single layer (it can be a crowded, jumbled single layer) on the bottom, & put the chicken on top. Take care to cover treviso & any cut sides of squash with the chicken.
Stick it in the oven. Then, every 15 minutes, take the dish out & turn the veggies &/or spoon the pan juices over the top. Pay attention to how the chicken is progressing; at one of these turnings, you will note that another 15 minutes would be too much. Then adjust your timer accordingly—or turn up the sensitivity on your Chicken Sense (equal parts smell & intuition, I think) & just know when it’s done.
There you have it. Very much like a salad. This recipe just adds a lot of heat, that’s all.