It has been a few weeks since I have posted a Mark Bittman Recipe, but this week I am hosting The Food Matters Project so I have to honor to pick the recipe and post it in it’s entirety. It’s a challenge to choose a recipe when you have 500 to select from, but the choice became clear when narrowed down to Spanish cuisine. Since I’m in Spain now, it just had to be Spanish. My husband is from Spain, and he has a summer program here. I’m the lucky duck who gets to come along with him (apart from the program), to enjoy seeing friends and family. This year, as in other years, I enrolled in great yoga class, enjoyed making rounds to the tapa bars, went to a village celebration hosted by some friends, had a week-end blast in Barcelona, and visited numerous sites in and around the town of León, in the Northwest.
Tapas and Montaditos at Cervercería Catalana
There’s nothing new about oven-roasted chicken, but Romesco sauce may be new to you. The sauce originates in the area of Tarragona, Cataluña, in the northeast of the country. The ingredients are fresh tomato, roasted bell pepper, ground raw or roasted almonds, garlic, and olive oil. It makes a great companion to roast chicken, beef, pork, grilled tofu, fish, or vegetables. The following recipe for roast potatoes with chicken and romesco is courtesy Mark Bittman; I did not follow the recipe exactly, as I fried the potatoes aside. I know what you’re thinking—fried potatoes are not a healthy food. Learning how to eat healthy doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat some of foods that aren’t good for you. Unless you are on a very strict diet for your health, you can take pleasure in a few “forbidden foods,” as long as it’s a small amount and you don’t do it often.
Mercado de León
*I did not follow the recipe exactly as I cooked the potatoes separately and I omitted the parsley from the Romesco sauce.
Time: 1 hour, largely unattended
6 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
1-1/2 pounds new potatoes or other small potatoes, halved
Salt and black pepper
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 bone-in chicken thighs; or 2 bone-in chicken breasts, each cut in half
1/2 cup almonds
1 large red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 large or 2 medium ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, or to taste
1 packed cup fresh parsley
2 tablespoons sherry or white wine vinegar (I recommend starting with less vinegar and adding to taste)
1. Heat the oven to 400° F. Drizzle the bottom of a shallow roasting pan or a rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the potatoes, toss to coat with the oil, spread in a single layer, and sprinkly with salt and pepper. Roast, undisturbed, until they’re just beginning to sizzle, about 10 minutes.
2. Top the potatoes first with the rosemary, then the chicken pieces, all skin side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with 2 more tablespoons of the oil. Roast for about 15 minutes, then baste the chicken with the pan drippings and rotate the pan. If necessary, adjust the oven temperature so the chicken and the potatoes brown but do not burn. Chicken breasts will be done in 15 or 20 minutes, thighs in 25 or 30.
3. Meanwhile, combine the almonds, bell pepper, tomato, garlic, parsley and vinegar in a food processor or blender. With the machine running, slowly add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil; pruée into a thick paste, adding more oil of necessary to keep the machine running and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Season with salt and pepper.
4. The chicken and potatoes are done when the potatoes are tender and release easily from the pan and the chicken is opaque and the juices run clear. Serve each piece of chicken with a spoonful of the potatoes, a little of the pan juices, and a dollop of romesco.