Photos by Zachary Cross
I was pretty disappointed in this recipe at first. It seemed to make a potentially simple recipe way too hard and the taste was so-so as well. I was sad at the thought of having a fail!
It didn’t help that I did not have a whole chicken to work with like I thought I did. Part of the appeal of the original recipe I worked with, Chicken “Under a Brick”, is to butterfly the chicken and brown it nicely in order to speed up the cooking time - not necessary with the chicken drumsticks and thighs I did have. I did go ahead brown the chicken in the skillet before adding the veggies, then baked as directed. I suppose because I had browned it the chicken was done but the vegetables were not quite done. It was okay, but not more than okay and overall result was definitely not worth the effort of butterflying a chicken and browning it. Also, I loved the flavor of the coriander but it was not enough.
When it came down to it the recipe is pretty similar to a Chicken Broccoli Bake I’ve made before. The Chicken Broccoli Bake is definitely quick, easy, and in one pan (though not a skillet). In fact I think my daughter was the first person in our house to make it. I had all the ingredients on hand, planned to make it for supper, then came down with a virus. My daughter came to the rescue and we were still able to eat a good supper that night. I’ve made it several times since then, though it’s a very basic recipe and I’ve wondered how I could improve it while keeping things simple.
I tried again by combining elements of both recipes - it seemed like it had the potential to be tasty that way. I doubled the coriander and used a bit of garlic olive oil (olive oil with roasted garlic stored in it). I used melted palm oil for the rest of my oil. I didn’t bother browning the chicken but I did rub it with the salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon coriander. Including broccoli as well as mushrooms made for a nice color contrast. I mixed the veggies separately with oil and remaining seasonings, spread them in a large jellyroll pan, and placed the chicken drumsticks and thighs on top. I baked a little longer than directed and this time both the veggies and the chicken were done at the same time.
The flavor was so much better! Using a jelly roll pan instead of a skillet or 9 x 13 pan (as in the Chicken Broccoli Bake) let the juices evaporate - but not too much. This helped the vegetables caramelize nicely instead of steaming as they did in my other attempts.
Mushrooms were scarce at the market when I made this so I used the baby portobellos called for. I think other types of mushrooms would work well and I hope to get to try it with shiitakes soon.
This recipe also works with one to two pounds of tofu in place of the chicken. Start with a pound, see if it looks like enough to suit you, then cut up your second pound if it’s not. Jeffrey preferred less tofu over more. Use more oil, up to ½ cup total, and season the tofu separately to keep it from breaking too much. I also tried sautéing the tofu version and that worked well. You’d need to halve the recipe or use more than one pan for a stovetop version but if you’d prefer working with a stove rather than the oven know that’s an option.
This is such a pretty recipe with all the color and shape contrasts. Arrange the vegetables in a lovely pattern or mix them up willy nilly - it will all taste good and still be attractive.
Inspired by Chicken Under a Brick from Real Simple
And Chicken Broccoli Bake from Our Paleo Life
8 chicken legs and/or thighs
¼ cup olive or melted palm oil, divided
2 teaspoons ground coriander, divided
½ teaspoon pepper, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 large onion, divided into 12 wedges
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
4 oz baby portobello mushrooms, halved
1 small head of broccoli, divided into florets, stalks peeled and cubed
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
Preheat oven to 400°. Rub with 1 tablespoon of the oil and sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon coriander, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Set aside.
Toss together the onion, sweet potato, mushrooms, garlic, and the remaining oil and salt. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer in a 16" x 12" jellyroll pan. Place the chicken skin side up on the vegetables. Bake in oven until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about one hour. Serve sprinkled with the oregano.
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