Easy One Pan Italian Dressing Roast Chicken + Fresh Tomato Sauce

As promised yesterday, my Easy One Pan Italian Dressing Roast Chicken + Fresh Tomato Sauce recipe. While this isn't the quickest chicken recipe ever, it is super easy, family-friendly, and rustically elegant enough to serve to guests. 

By roasting the chicken atop fresh tomatoes, you get a lot of moist, juicy flavor through the underside of the chicken, but then keep the skin safely away from moisture so you still get an irresistibly crispy brown chicken skin made all the more delicious by the layer of frico you get from adding some grated dry cheese atop the chicken in the last few minutes of roasting.

And then all those delicious juices and fat from the chicken along with some of its velvety collagen drip into the fresh tomato sauce, giving it a wonderfully rich and developed flavor while still retaining the light and summery flavor of fresh tomatoes.

Key to the success of this dish is a cooking vessel with enough surface area to be able to spread the chicken out in a single layer without having the pieces touch. I used a 12-inch oven safe stainless saute pan to make mine. If you have an equally large cast iron skillet or a medium sized roasting pan, they'll work just fine.

If you've been with me a while, you know that I almost always advise to bring your proteins up to roughly room temp before you cook them in order to prevent an undesireable internal steaming effect as they cook. Well, I've done some experimenting and as it turns out, when roasting individual chicken pieces, you can actually start the chicken in a cold oven and because of the particular size of the pieces, the gradual increase of the oven heat as it comes up to cooking temperature will also gradually bring the temperature of the chicken meat up to something fairly close to room temp right as the oven hits the cooking temp, giving you the same benefit of taking the chicken out of the fridge 45 minutes ahead of time to bring it up in temp. A most welcomed discovery in my kitchen for sure. :)

If you happen to hate fresh tomato sauce, the roast chicken component of the recipe can stand alone.

Easy One Pan Italian Dressing Roast Chicken + Fresh Tomato Sauce

Serves 4 to 6
Time: 90 minutes total, 15 active

For the chicken:

- 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken drums and/or thighs, each piece scored twice on the skin side, down to the bone, about 2-inches long and 1-inch apart (this helps the flavors penetrate the meat better)
- 1/3 cup Italian dressing (well shaken) + 1 teaspoon garlic salt mixed in a small bowl
- 1/4 cup grated dry cheese (like Parmesan, Asiago, Manchego, etc...)

For the fresh tomato sauce:

- 2 baskets grape or cherry tomatoes (about 4 cups)
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon dried Italian herbs OR 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (Any combination of generally Italian appropriate herbs, like basil, parsley, oregano, and/or thyme is fine. I wouldn't recommend rosemary for this particular dish.)
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar (if needed to round out the acid in the dressing)

1) In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken and dressing mixture and toss gently several times to coat the chicken thoroughly. Take some of the run off dressing mixture and work it into each score. Let the chicken sit while you're preparing the tomato sauce components.

2) In your roasting vessel, add all the tomato sauce components and give them a few good stirs to evenly distribute all the ingredients and seasonings.

3) Lay your chicken skin side up atop the tomato mixture, leaving a little space between the pieces. Make sure to put any leftover marinade into the pan, too.

4) Pop the pan into the middle rack of the oven, turn it up to 425F, set the timer for 60 minutes, and sometime in the next 60 minutes, boil whatever pasta you'd like to have with your tomato sauce, drain, toss it with a teaspoon or so of olive oil so it won't stick, and set it aside. I'm a big fan of the cold, shallow water method.

5) After 60 minutes, sprinkle the grated cheese in equal portions atop the chicken pieces, and put it back on the top rack of the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. (Check at the 10 minute mark to see if it's done to your liking or if it could use just a few more minutes in the oven.)

I like to put the chicken on its own platter and serve the pasta on the side and just spoon the tomato sauce, broth and all, over the pasta.

A crisp white like a Pinot Grigio or Sauv Blanc or even a light, sunny red like a Tempranillo go great with this meal. I just happened to make a tangerine sangría out of some leftover Sauv Blanc last night when these pics were taken.

Enjoy! :)




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