Monday, July 1, 2013

The old chuck and bung

Well, I've been 29 for a month now, and it seems that the march toward the 30s and that next phase of getting ever lamer (Saturday nights at home in my sweatpants) excitement in the little things seems to be gathering speed.

Take, for instance, this list of things that have brought me moments of true delight lately:

Cleaning out my closet
Changing my car insurance policy (I'm saving big money, people!)
Dairy Queen (OK, this one is not new)
Going to a concert on a Tuesday night, and taking Wednesday off of work so I could sleep in (felt pretty smug about this)
Finding a weeknight dinner recipe that I really liked to add to my regular rotation

But, in all fairness, finding a dinner recipe that is 1. cheap, 2. easy, and 3. tasty is something to get excited about. Am I right? 

Am I right??

I know I'm right. Some nights after work, Adam and I want to eat well, but we just don't want to spend time cooking - and I know we're not alone in this. Maybe we have laundry to do, or dishes to put away, or maybe we've finally picked up our mail for the first time in two weeks and have to sort through the stacks, or maybe we're trying burn through the last few episodes of Dexter season 7 because the final season is starting. You know, adult stuff. It's a blessing and a curse that we have zero good takeout options in our neighborhood, so these types of nights often leave us staring into the fridge, then at each other, then back into the fridge, hoping the issue will solve itself. 

Enter here, this awesome dish of chicken, tomatoes, basil and olives, from Jamie Oliver. Jamie's description of the recipe sums it up perfectly: 

So easy - chuck everything in one tray, then bung in the oven.

Is that not what we're looking for in weeknight recipes? More chucking and bunging, please!

In this recipe, everything is tossed into a pan and roasts for an hour or so - the chicken, tomatoes and chunks of torn-up baguette are infused with garlic, basil and the salty olives. Toward the end, you top the pan with a few slices of prosciutto - tasty and elegant, if you want to go that route. I may leave this off in the future to make this more of an inexpensive go-to meal. 

The best part? Those dang bread cubes; we couldn't stop picking them out of the pan of leftovers, long after dinner was over. They crisp on the top and soak in a little of the juices from the roasting pan on the bottom, and seem to carry the flavor of everything they've touched. Do not skimp on the bread chunks here.

What is on your list of weeknight recipes?

One-Pan Chicken with Tomatoes, Basil, and Olives
Adapted slightly from Jamie Oliver

This seems like a big pan o food, but it's not super filling - there's not a whole ton of meat on the chicken drummies. We made the quantities listed below, and with a big salad, it was just barely enough for a light dinner for two, plus light lunch leftovers for two (with a big salad) the next day. Or maybe we're just big eaters?

One mini baguette, or half of a large one, torn into large-ish chunks
2 lbs chicken drummies (about 8)
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes
Bunch of basil, leaves picked, big leaves torn into smaller pieces
One bulb garlic, broken into cloves, skin left on (I used about 10 cloves)
Handful of olives, pits removed (recipe calls for black olives, I used kalamata)
Olive oil
4-8 slices of prosciutto (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a large baking dish big enough for the chicken to fit on one layer (I used an 9x13 cake pan), toss in the torn baguette, chicken, tomatoes, basil, garlic and olives. Drizzle with olive oil and toss everything to coat, then set the chicken pieces on the top of everything else.

Place the pan into the oven and cook for an hour total, turning the chicken once after 30 minutes. Chicken should be tender and cooked through. If using prosciutto, lay the pieces over the top of the chicken, and cook another 5 minutes, until prosciutto is beginning to crisp.