Mmmm Poulet Provençal- blindfolded, it has me wondering, “am I at my dining table in South Texas or having a picnic in a lavender field in Avignon?” The flavors here are so distinct that it‘s easy to dream oneself away to the South of France! This is the meal that I’d imagine Van Gogh and Gauguin would share together (pre-falling out/ear cutting off, of course). It’s a simple, rustic, and delicious recipe (adapted from Epicurious) that is best enjoyed communally avec chilled rosé et crusty baguette. Oui oui! Perhaps you’ve seen herbs de provence peaking out from a hiding place deep within your pantry or sitting untouched on a remote grocery store shelf. While I don’t use this herb blend often, when I do I’m blown away by the incredible flavor it lends to food. Herbs de provence is a medley of dried herbs (usually oregano, rosemary, fennel, and thyme) and sometimes lavender. It tastes like Mediterranean sunshine! The herbs season both the chicken and the aromatic bed of olives, tomatoes, shallots, and garlic that the bird roasts upon. The vegetables become richly caramelized and turn into the most delightful sauce at the end of cooking (crusty bread is a must for divine dunking). The mixture may seem a little burnt when it comes out of the oven, but those deep brown bits are my favorite so don’t panic!
When I’m roasting whole chickens, I tend to avoid the gigantic 5 or 6 lb whopper birds- they aren’t as flavorful or tender as the smaller ones (look for 3.5 lbs, 4 lbs max). Another important step is to pat the chicken dry with paper towels, salt it liberally inside and out, and let it rest in a baking dish uncovered in the fridge until you’re ready to roast. The salt seasons and tenderizes the meat, making for a juicy and flavorful bird, and the fridge air dries out the skin to ensure optimal crispiness. One or two great roasted chicken recipes will take you to infinity and beyond in the cocina. This tasty poulet is tres parfait every time... add it to your bag of dinnertime tricks and see why it’s one of my favorites!
prep time: ~20 min. cook time: 1-1/2 hr. (with resting) serves: 3-4
1-3 to 4 lb roasting chicken, giblets removed
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tsp herbs de provence, divided
1 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb plum tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
6 shallots, peeled, roots trimmed, and halved through stem (quartered if large)
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced, plus 2 cloves finely minced or grated
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
As soon as you get the chicken home from the store, pat it down with paper towels and salt it liberally inside and out. Let it chill uncovered in a baking dish in the fridge (I use the same one I roast the chicken in) until you are ready to roast. Preheat the oven to 425°. Combine 2 tbsp of oil, 1 tsp herbs de provence, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and the 2 grated garlic cloves in a small bowl. Rub the mixture evenly all over the chicken, inside and out, and place it in a roasting dish. Truss the chicken by tying the legs together with cooking twine and tucking the wings under the body. Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes, shallots, olives, sliced garlic, remaining 1 tsp of herbs de provence, fennel, red pepper flake, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 2 tbsp more olive oil together in a medium bowl. Scatter the mixture around the chicken in the roasting dish. Place the dish in the oven on a middle rack. Roast about 1 hr and 15 minutes (depending on size, this may take more or less time). The thigh temperature should register 170° when it’s done. Allow to rest at least 10 minutes before carving. Serve the chicken in pieces with the roasted vegetables spooned alongside and a crusty loaf of bread for dunking!