Saturday, August 24, 2013

Roasted Chicken alla Nonna

Nonna's make everything better.  I am not sure why my Nonna Maria added tomatoes to everything.  My guess would be she had them left over from opening a larger can of peeled tomatoes.  Italians do not like waste, especially Italian Nonna's. It all makes perfect sense to me now.  While the chicken cooked, she could get so much done at home, including setting the table and pour some wine for herself and Nonno.   The wonderful flavor of  roasted tomatoes, onions, potatoes merging with bland chicken, turns that chicken into something wonderful.  Nonna's are always right, aren't they?
I had a whole bunch of grape tomatoes from my garden, I needed to use up. 
My grandmother worked when she came to this country, helping my Mother take care of us and sew up blouses and mens ties  for what we now know as the Ladies Garment Union.   They worked, side by side, in our home in The Bronx.  I was so jealous.  One day in 1968, when she wasn't looking, I actually hit her over the head with a kitchen broom.  She never forgot that.  She laughed and reminded everyone about it until her death in 1995. (Pictures of their sewing adventures to come).
This chicken dish was a very popular dish in her home and it's so easy.  She used a few peeled tomatoes cut up.  I can remember walking into her house and smelling those onions cooking. 
 Here is my Version.  I love you Nonna and miss you every day.
Ingredients:  One whole chicken cut up, cleaned, skin on.  (Based on a 4-5 pound chicken).   I like to buy chicken pieces. I used 4 chicken breasts and one leg.
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
4-5 red potatoes quartered into chunks
25 grape tomatoes cut in half
One large red or yellow onion/ sliced into thick pieces about 1/4 inch.
plenty of fresh Rosemary (some for your baking pan, some for serving)
One large baking pan.  I used a non stick baking pan
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F
1/2 cup white wine
Cooking time/ one hour (Depends on the size of your chicken pieces.  Mine were quite large.
Make adjustments for convection cooking.
Method:  Lay your chicken pieces skin side up in your baking pan. 
Into a bowl, toss your quartered potatoes, tomatoes and your sliced red onion.  Toss until everything is glossy.  Lay your vegetables alongside your chicken.  Sprinkle your salt, pepper all over the top.  

 Bake for one hour or so total cooking time.  At the 30 minute mark,  carefully, add your wine (Optional).  Wine, however, adds great flavor.  Do not be afraid to use it.  The alcohol will evaporate and leave behind fabulous flavor.  If you choose not to use it, do not worry.  Let the fat of the chicken, keep things moist.  It will work just the same. 
  At the 45 minute mark, carefully poke a hole into one of the thickest chicken pieces to test that your chicken is done.  If liquid comes out of the meat when poked, it needs it's full cooking time of one hour.  You should see a nice, even, golden color.  Remove from oven, remove your darkened Rosemary.  Toss your vegetables into a serving bowl and let your chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving.  It's so easy and uncomplicated.  Just like Nonna's cooking.   Buon Appetito!

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