When I was in high school (let’s pretend that was fairly recently, shall we?), we used to joke about the menus hanging in the cafeteria. It seemed that whenever the cooks wanted something simple to sound exciting, they would add the word “medley.” We weren’t just having fruit salad, we were having a “medley” of fruit. The term “French Provençal” is a bit like that. It sounds fancy, right? It is indeed quite delicious, but really, French Provençal cuisine is just well prepared, simple country food.
This meal is stone simple to prepare. Good oil and fresh lemon, a few olives, a bit of sea salt, and a sprinkle of dried herbs are all you need to elevate the flavor of simply roasted chicken into something amazing. I’m using drumsticks because they are economical and Half Pint loves them, but a whole chicken cut into eight pieces would work just as well. For vegetables, I’m honoring the French tradition of selecting what is seasonal and complimentary in both flavor AND color… freshly harvested Brussels sprouts and baby yams caught my eye today. Feel free to substitute other vegetable combinations such as orange carrots and green zucchini, or red beets and yellow potatoes, or add a slice of purple cabbage – you get the idea.
Simply gather the ingredients listed below and invite a few friends for a good meal. Task one with bringing wine, and another with bringing a loaf of fresh bread and real butter (don’t kill this meal with margarine… just… please). Dinner will be served in an hour. Bon Appetit!
1/4 cup oil, divided (olive oil is traditional, but coconut oil holds up to high roasting temperatures better. I used coconut oil.)
8 pieces of chicken
coarse ground sea salt
1 cup Niçoise olives
3 cups fresh Brussels sprouts
4 baby yams
Herbes de Provence
Step 1) Generously coat two baking pans (make sure the pans have sides) with two tablespoons of oil per pan. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Step 2) Arrange chicken pieces on one pan, making sure to turn over each piece of chicken so that the tops and bottoms are both lightly coated with oil. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Step 3) Arrange bite-sized vegetables on the other pan, turning over once to lightly coat with oil. Sprinkle with sea salt. A few tips on the vegetables:
- If you’re using a very dense vegetable such as yams or beets, smaller is better. Smaller roots and tubers are usually less fibrous and more pleasant when roasted. A smaller “bite size” is also better, as increased surface area helps speed up the roasting time. Aim for pieces which are about 1 inch squared.
- If you’re using Brussels sprouts or chunks of cabbage, introducing water before roasting is a great idea (these veggies tend to become overly dry otherwise). For Brussels sprouts, boil for 30 seconds before roasting. For chunks of cabbage, a minute in a steamer basket works well.
Step 4) Place both pans in the preheated oven, with the chicken on the upper rack and vegetables on the lower rack. Turn vegetables after 20 minutes, so they don’t stick to the pan. Also after 20 minutes, sprinkle olives all over the roasting chicken.
Step 5) Check both pans after 35 minutes, and again every five minutes until vegetables are fork tender and chicken reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees F. If one pan is done before the other, don’t worry about it. Take the pan that’s ready out of the oven, and just put it back in the oven for one or two more minutes as the second pan is just about ready. Easy.
Step 6) Arrange chicken and vegetables on individual dinner plates or a serving platter. Squeeze the juice from a fresh lemon wedge over the chicken and vegetables, and slice the wedge into slivers as a garnish. Finally, sprinkle lightly crushed herbes de provence over your meal. Enjoy!