On Your Table: simple suppers to start the New Year

By Cathy Branciaroli, Food Correspondent, The Times

Roasting chicken thighs and accompanying savories on a sheet pan makes for a simple supper.

Whew – we made it through the holidays, with plenty of rushing about and cooking. So now, it’s time to relax and to prepare simple, easy suppers. But make no mistake in underestimating such simple dishes. They can be bursting with flavor. I think of simple suppers as something you know how to make by heart, a no-brainer. I think of one-dish dinners, things that can be cooked in an iron skillet or on a sheet pan.

For such a meal, here is a recipe for skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs roasted on a sheet pan with potatoes, root vegetables, lemons and olives Provencal style, just as the chef who cooked for me and my fellow food writers at Julia Child’s house in the south of France prepared when we stayed there in October.

What can be simpler than cooking the main and side dishes together in a single pan? Sheet pan dishes like this one are handy for all sorts of cooking as the sheet pan provides a large surface area and the shallow sides allow for maximum heat circulation. The ingredients cook quickly while meats remain tender and juicy and vegetables roast evenly.   How easy is this? Plus, an added benefit is that when you use parchment or foil to line the pan, it’s just a matter of tossing out the liner when the dish is complete. Very little clean-up is needed.

This chicken is seasoned with flavors meant to evoke the feel of southern France, including rosemary, lemons, olives and olive oil. It is roasted with shallots and white wine until the skin has gone crisp, the potatoes and carrots are tender and the shallots are melted and sweet. Skip the chicken breasts we are so used to because when roasting them they are prone to over cooking.

About halfway through the cooking, ladle some of the roasting juices over the top of the chicken, which helps keep it moist and, thanks to the chicken fat, also crisps it. When the skin has gone tight and golden and the chicken has cooked entirely through, demonstrated when a fork piercing the meat and juices run clear, it’s done.

So get out a lovely plate and warm it. Place the chicken thighs on top of that. Then arrange all the other ingredients around and on top of the thighs. You might serve some white rice on the side or a pilaf. But even if only served with baguettes to mop up the sauce, along with a green salad, this makes for a perfect meal.

Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs Provencal Style


8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup olive oil

1 lemon, quartered and sliced in half moons

½ to 1 cup pitted olives

6 to 10 cloves garlic, peeled, to your taste

1 small bunch rosemary branches

4 medium-size shallots, peeled and halved

6-8 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered with skins on

1 small bunch sliced and peeled carrots

1/2 cup dry white wine


Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line the sheet tray with parchment or foil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Lay skin side up on sheet tray and drizzle with olive oil. Place the potatoes, carrots and savories in a zip lock bag with 2-3 tbs olive oil and shake to coat.

Arrange the potatoes, carrots, sliced lemon, garlic cloves, shallots and olives around the chicken in the pan. Lay the rosemary branches across the top of the meat and vegetables. Spoon the remaining olive oil and white wine across the pan.

Put the pan in the oven, and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, then baste with the pan juices. Continue roasting for another 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is very crisp and the meat cooked through. Serve in the pan or on a warmed platter with a green salad.

A balsamic/shallot vinaigrette using a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, a quarter-cup of cider vinegar and three-quarters of a cup of olive oil works well to dress a salad. Whisk to emulsify, and then season to taste.

Cathy Branciaroli writes about her adventures in the kitchen on her award-winning blog Delaware Girl Eats


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