Tuesday, August 30, 2011

book club, tomatoes and a recipe for chicken provençal?

it is my favorite week at summer fest...tomato week!  each year i profess my love for local, in-season, organically grown heirloom tomatoes and then i struggle with selecting a recipe to blog about.  all i really want to do is eat tomato sandwiches....simply toasted sourdough or french bread spread with a bit of mayo (i have been obsessed lately with vegenaise a vegan version that i think tastes better than mayonnaise), piled high with tomatoes, sprinkled with grey salt and freshly cracked black pepper and eaten while the toast is still warm. nothing better!

i eat tomatoes every day during the month of august and as long as they last in september.  for summerfest's tomato week last year i shared my recipe for the modestly titled best tomato sauce in the world, and a delicious gazpacho from gott's restaurant here in napa.  the year before i did a roundup of some of my favorite bean salads, pico de gallo, tapanade and bruchetta, all featuring heirloom tomatoes. this year i decided to feature a main dish...my version of chicken provençal.

courtesy ann trinca
regular readers know that i often blog about my book club events.  8 of my favorite girlfriends get together once a month for good food, lots of wine (it is napa after all) and discussion of the featured book.  eating, talking, laughing...how does it get any better?  normally we meet on a weeknight...just the girls.  but our tradition is to hold the august meeting at my house...on a sunday afternoon by the pool...and then have spouses, friends and significant others come afterward for more pool and dinner. 
our book for the month was the paris wife, the story of ernest hemingway's first wife.  since the book covered their lives living in paris, and we were getting together on a warm summer day, i decided the food theme would be "alfresco provençal picnic".  cheese, olives, fruit, good bread, roasted vegetables, salads, tarts, crisps and lots of wine. the chicken provençal was the perfect main dish...easy to make and terrific for a party because you can make it the day before and then serve hot, warm or at room temperature.  my friend dina proclaimed the dish "perfection"   wow!   i told her i was going to quote her in this story.  so...take it from dina...try this chicken and tomatoes recipe.

you can cut this recipe in half for smaller parties..or double or triple.  i tripled thinking i would have a lot left over.  between you and me?  i was going to photograph the leftovers for this post but at the end of the night there was only one leg left.  seriously...one leg.  ha!  so that is what i was able to photograph.  happily my friend ann (an artist and photographer) took some shots of the party, food included, so you can have a peek into our party.  thanks ann...

courtesy ann trinca, chicken is dish top left
courtesy ann trinca
food just tastes better when eaten outside, does it not?  combine that with amazing friends and life is perfect.  cheers from the "best book club ever"

courtesy ann trinca
chicken provençal with heirloom tomatoes
(i tripled this recipe for my party)
8 whole chicken legs (organic & free range if possible)
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 onions, peeled and sliced
2 pints organic cherry tomatoes
8 heirloom tomatoes, quartered and then cut into eighths
8 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 bottle dry white wine
3 tablespoons herbs de provence
additional heirloom tomatoes cut into quarters and fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, lavender) as garnish

preheat oven to 350 degrees. you will need one very large, or 2 medium sized rectangular roasting pans for this recipe. generously season both side of the chicken with salt and pepper. (note you can keep the legs attached, or cut into legs and thighs.  i left half of the legs whole and separated the rest ). set aside.

in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil until hot.  add the onion and cherry tomatoes and sauté until the onion just begins to brown and caramelize.  add the garlic, heirloom tomatoes and herbs de provence and cook for 5 minutes.

spread the tomato mixture in the bottom of the roasting pan(s).  add the chicken, skin side down, to the pan on top of the vegetables.  add enough of the wine to come halfway up the side of the chicken.  cover pan(s) with lid or foil and place in preheated oven.  bake for 50 minutes.  remove from oven.  remove lid and turn chicken skin side up.  wine should still come halfway up side of chicken.  remove or add additional wine if necessary.  do not let wine come more than half way or chicken will not brown properly.  place chicken back in oven and cook an additional 20-30 minutes, uncovered, until nicely browned.  remove from oven.

if you plan to serve the following day, follow these steps.  allow the chicken to cool.  remove the legs from the wine liquid, place on a cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator.  pour the rest of the roasting pan contents...wine and vegetables...into a medium sized saucepan and
cook until liquid has reduced by half.  taste and adjust seasonings.  allow to cool, cover and place in refrigerator. 

the following day, preheat oven to 300 degrees. remove the sauce from refrigerator and skim fat from surface.  warm on stove top.  remove chicken from fridge.  uncover and pour sauce/vegetable mixture over chicken.  reheat chicken until it reaches desired temperature. 

if you want to serve the same day you make the chicken, follow these steps:  remove from oven and place chicken on serving dish.  pour liquid and vegetables into saucepan.  reduce by half and pour over chicken.

garnish with the reserved tomatoes and fresh herbs, sprinkled with sea salt and additional herbs de provence.

now it is your turn to participate in summer fest. simply leave your corn tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below, and then go visit food network and do the same same. join the conversation on twitter at #cookingwith and be sure to check out these delicious sounding recipes from the other participating bloggers:

Big Girls Small Kitchen: Seared Chicken with Cherry Tomato Pan Sauce
Haute Apple Pie: Heirloom Tomato & Three Cheese Tart
What's Gaby Cooking: Zebra Tomato and Burrata Crostini
Zaika Zabardast: Balsamic Roasted Tomato-Basil Ice
And Love It Too: Healthy Lunchbox - Garlic Tomato Basil Pesto Bruchetta
Chez Us: Roasted Tomato Sauce
Daily*Dishin: Refreshing and Rustic - Tuscan Bread Salad
Glory Foods: Fresh Tomato Salsa
Dishin and Dishes: Tomato Tart Tatin
The Purple Cook: Eggplant Parmesan Caprese Salad
I Am Mommy: Tomato Crudite
Cooking With My Kid: Gluten-Free White Bean Chive Cakes with Heirloom Tomatoes
FN Dish: Easy Tomato Appetizers
Add a Pinch: Simple Caprese Salad Skewers
Sweet Life Bake: Salsa Cruda
Virtually Homemade: Farfalle with Roasted Tomato Sauce, Bacon and Shaved Romano
Dixie Chik Cooks: Tomato, Basil and Olive Bruschetta
The Sensitive Epicure: Yemista - Greek Stuffed Tomatoes & Peppers with Potatoes
Mooshu Jenne: Sun Burst Tomato Pasta
Cooking With Elise: Tomato Parmesan Biscuits
From My Corner of Saratoga: Cooking from the Garden - Bruschetta Pizza
Fritos and Foie Gras: Tomato Terrine
Creative Culinary: Fresh and Savory Tomato Pie
Big Apple Nosh: Caprese Salad/Tomato Carnage
Spices and Aroma: Quick and Easy Paneer Curry
Zaika Zabardast: Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Breakfast Rolls


diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885
"live a green life of style™ "

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thehealthyjunkie said...

This chicken recipe is delicious!! Fall off the bone, delicious! Anyone who enjoys chicken needs to incorporate your recipe. Thank you for posting it.

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks laura!

Mary said...

Yum! That food looks so good. What a great looking table. I love the table setting.

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks mary...we had a blast

Katie @ Haute Apple Pie said...

yum! this looks like a great way to use up the rest of my heirlooms. I love herbs de provence.

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi katie...i love herbs de provence too! makes one of my favorite vinaigrettes. enjoy the recipe...

Wine Harlots said...

Looks awesome!
I'd pair it with a Beaujolais.


Nannette Eaton

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

ha! thanks nannette...