As a young (overworked, maybe arrogant) restaurant cook, I took “weeknight cooking” to mean the sort of lazy, phoned-in dishes you made just to stay alive when you were too exhausted to cook anything else. Limp spaghetti tossed with the dregs from a jar of sauce, 2-day-old rice with an egg on it — all things I’ve happily eaten, but would now classify as “personal,” not “weeknight” cooking.
Now that I’m not working till 2 a.m. and occasionally like to eat dinner at a reasonable hour, it has dawned on me that “weeknight cooking” doesn’t mean lazier; it means smarter.
For a recipe to qualify as such, I feel I’ve got cheat the system a little: a pantry ingredient that allows me to cut back on simmering time, a technique that allows me to wash one less bowl, a move so clever I’m still basking in the warm glow of my own smugness long after the last bite. “Better than it ought to be” is what I might say after a particularly good weeknight meal.
This simple sheet-pan chicken joins the many thousands of weeknight recipes that involve roasting on a sheet pan. But this avoids the obvious downside of cooking this way — that the best parts (the fat and crispy browned bits) end up stuck to the sheet pan, then poured down the drain instead of over my chicken and into my mouth.
This recipe makes use of all those golden chickeny bits still stuck on that pan by pouring a mixture of olive oil, raw garlic, crushed briny olives and a bit of water over them and using a spatula to scrape up all the goods, making a rich, tangy, decidedly schmaltzy sauce to pour over the chicken.
The first time I did this, I wondered if they gave out Pulitzer Prizes for chicken recipes. (They don’t.)
Of course, I am not the first person to deglaze a sheet pan, but nevertheless it made me feel smart and, yeah, a little smug. A true weeknight meal, if I do say so myself.
VINEGAR CHICKEN WITH CRUSHED OLIVE DRESSING
- 3-1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and ground pepper
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 1-1/2 cups green Castelvetrano olives, crushed and pitted
- 2 cloves garlic, finely grated
- 1 cup parsley, tender leaves and stems, chopped
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place chicken on rimmed baking sheet and toss with turmeric and 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Make sure chicken is skin-side up, then pour vinegar over and around chicken and place in the oven.
Bake chicken, without flipping, until cooked through and deeply browned all over, 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine olives, garlic, parsley, the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.
Once chicken is cooked, remove baking sheet from the oven and transfer chicken to a large serving platter, leaving behind any of the juices and bits stuck to the pan.
Make sure the baking sheet is on a sturdy surface (the stovetop, a counter), then pour the olive mixture onto the sheet. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently scrape up all the bits the chicken left behind, letting the olive mixture mingle with the rendered fat and get increasingly saucy. Pour olive mixture over the chicken, then serve. Serves 4.
Nutritional information unavailable.
AND TO DRINK
Vinegar can be like a vampire for wine, sucking out its lifeblood. In this dish, the power of the vinegar will be diminished somewhat by cooking it with the chicken. But then comes the crushed olive dressing, which adds a new layer of anti-wine force. One great solution is fino sherry, which is practically made to go with olives. I happen to love fino, but it is a polarizing wine. Another tactic is simply not to worry about clashing flavors. This means you can drink anything you want, with one proviso: Don’t open an expensive, subtle or meaningful bottle, because you will not appreciate it to its fullest. I would opt for sharp whites — many Italian whites would fit well — or lively, low-tannin reds like Barbera d’Alba, Beaujolais-Villages or simple Côtes-du-Rhônes.
— Eric Asimov, New York Times