One of the most valuable things in my cooking journey has always been the advice of people who have been cooking long before me. I still remember my father throwing away a spoonful Vera red pepper in my fabada explaining to me”this will make it taste better“. My mom teaches me how to make ham bone stock. My godfather teaching my husband to make paella (“I usually go upstairs to bathe and when I come down it’s already done”). My grandmother shares the secret of her corns (make sure the butcher shows you the hoof!!). My grandmother telling me his Baked Chicken Parmesan “formula”. And all the tips, tricks and techniques in between.
One of those tips I got from my mom, which I’ve kept since I got married to this day, is to always have cans of tomatoes in the pantry. My mother almost always used canned tomatoes, as opposed to tomato sauce, to make her pasta sauces and stews (like his osso bucco). She still does. Me too. You’d be hard-pressed to find my pantry without a few cans of tomatoes somewhere.
As for fresh tomatoes, I read somewhere that when making sauces, if you can’t find star tomatoes (and although we have beautiful tomatoes here and the farmers are continually growing new ones, we still don’t have enough of the super juicy ones for sauce) you’re better off using a quality canner. So that’s what I’ve always done. Because of this, I am always on the lookout for good canned tomatoes and am forever experimenting with different brands.
I usually stick with Spanish or Italian brands, but I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered this Peasant woman canned tomatoes a couple of years ago during their launch (with Nigella Lawson!!). Contadina tomatoes are vine-ripened Roma tomatoes grown in California…sweet and juicy and perfect for sauces and stews. They have been part of my pantry ever since.
So when the fine folks at Contandina approached me about working on a recipe, I was more than happy to whip one up! By now I’ve cooked with their tomatoes countless times, so the hard part wasn’t thinking of a recipe, but deciding between all the ideas I had! I knew I wanted to use their tomatoes, my pantry staple, but I didn’t want to make another pasta. I also wanted to do something that required minimal effort…since it’s December and we’re all sure to be in the frenzy of the holidays!
This was the result…
Spanish-style baked chicken
- 1 can of Contadina stewed tomatoes with Italian herbs
- 1 kilo of chicken thighs
- 150 grams of Spanish chorizo (about 2 pieces), cut into slices
- 1 red onion, cut into eighths
- 1/3 cup pitted green olives, halved
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil peasant
- Optional: chopped parsley for garnish
– Place the tomatoes, chicken, chorizo, onion and olives in a roasting/oven pan or ovenproof dish. Arrange the contents so that everything is more or less evenly distributed in the pan.
– Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over each chicken leg. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
– Place in a preheated oven at 375 F for about 45 minutes or until cooked (the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced to the bone). Remove the pan once or twice during cooking to baste the juices on the chicken.
– When the chicken is done garnish with parsley (if you want) and serve!
That’s really all there is to it! The flavor comes from the herbs that the tomatoes already have, and the chorizo. As it roasts, the herbaceous tomatoes, the salty smokiness of the chorizo, and the chicken’s juices meld to create a delicious sauce that both flavors the dish and keeps the chicken moist. And just put everything in a pan and wait. Using a nice pan that you can take from the oven to the table will save you even more time and effort.
Here’s a bonus if you like a little heat (as we do)! And it uses another one of Contadina’s products that I like, its extra virgin olive oil. I use it to shake a chili oil which will give this dish an interesting edge: just mix a little olive oil with a generous pinch of chili flakes and Spanish red pepper. Let it sit while you cook the chicken. Serve it on the side so diners who like things spicy can feel free to splash around a bit (or a lot). Contadina sources their olive oil from Andalucia in Spain and it has a nice grassy flavor that I really like…very good for a grocery store olive oil! (come to think of it, my best experiences with olive oil have been in Spain!)
I like to serve it over rice and put the sauce on top… then drizzle the chili oil over it. For those who don’t like it spicy, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil is fine too.
If you have leftovers, shred the chicken and chop the chorizo, toss with the sauce and some cooked pasta for a whole new meal the next day. If you have fresh herbs around, you can add them too (some parsley or that would be great with fresh basil too!). You can add any extra chili oil you have, if you like, and/or sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese (or maybe even some diced feta). Here I used penne pasta from Contadina.
You can learn more about Peasant woman and its products your websiteas well as in his Facebook page.
This dish really highlights the quality of Contadina tomatoes, as well as the ease it offers you when cooking. It also goes to show you that you don’t need culinary pyrotechnics to put a satisfying meal on your table for family and friends. Just good, quality ingredients and a little imagination. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do!