When your dining partner exclaims at least a half dozen times during the course of the meal “This is sooo good, I want to drink the sauce from my plate.” Not surprisingly, after every morsel of food was eaten, that’s exactly what he did. (After leftovers the next day, he did the same thing!) It’s no wonder because in this simple skillet dinner, seared bone-in chicken breasts are roasted on top of a bed of sunny Mediterranean vegetables and topped with a pan sauce that marry the ingredients into a unified delight.
Part of the charm happens before cooking, when the veggies are tossed with herbes de Provence—an aromatic seasoning blend that typically includes rosemary, thyme, savory, marjoram and oregano, and sometimes other spices and herbs such as fennel, sage, lavender and tarragon. Our concoction is listed below, but you can also simplify it, or buy it if you don’t have a lot of the ingredients.
Herbaceous dry white vermouth is an ideal deglazing liquid for the browned bits left in the pan after searing the chicken. It is critical in elevating the dish and adds subtle but unmistakable herbal notes to the final meal. Dry white wine would work in a pinch, but the results won’t be quite the same.
Instead of one bell pepper, we used 4 or 5 small ones in varying colors because that’s what we had on hand. Plus, it lends more pops of color in the overall veggie scheme. Our Le Creuset “Baby Blue” enameled cast-iron braising pot was the perfect vehicle in which to cook the meal.
NOTE: Don’t use oversized chicken breasts; 12-ounce pieces work best. Larger ones require longer cooking, which will result in overdone vegetables. However, if unable to find 12 oz. chicken breasts, and have to use larger (16 oz.), compensate by frying skin-side-down for a full 8 minutes, and then fry an additional 5 minutes skin-side-up before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. When you remove the skillet from the oven, don’t forget that the handle will be hot.
Pan-Roasted Chicken and Summer Vegetables with Herbes de Provence
- 4 12-oz. bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, trimmed
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 Tbsp. herbes de Provence
- 6 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 1 medium red onion, halved and sliced about ¼ inch thick
- 1 yellow, orange or red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise ¼ inch thick
- ¼ cup drained capers, plus 1 Tbsp. caper brine
- ½ cup dry vermouth
- 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil, torn
- Heat the oven to 475℉ with a rack in the middle position. Season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of oil, the herbes de Provence, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add the garlic, onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, zucchini and capers, then toss to combine; set aside.
- In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the chicken skin down and cook without disturbing until golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the chicken skin up to a large plate.
- Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from the skillet. Add the vermouth, bring to a boil over medium-high and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the vegetables and cook, stirring, until just warmed through, about 1 minute, then distribute in an even layer. Nestle the chicken skin up in the vegetables and add any accumulated juices. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the thickest part of the breast reaches about 160°F, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven (the handle will be hot). Transfer the chicken skin up to a serving platter. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables the platter, arranging them around the chicken.
- Set the skillet over high, bring the liquid to a simmer and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened and reduced, 1 to 2 minutes. Off heat, stir in the caper brine, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce around the chicken and over the vegetables. Sprinkle with basil.
Herbes de Provence
Ground spices and dried herbs last about a year if kept away from heat and light.
- 4 Tbsp. dried thyme
- 1 Tbsp. dried sage
- 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
- 1 Tbsp. dried marjoram
- 1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
- 1 Tbsp. dried lavender flowers
- 2 tsp. dried tarragon
- 2 tsp. fennel seeds, toasted
- Mix all ingredients in a large mortar and finely crush with a pestle.
- Store unused mixture in an airtight container away from heat and light.
Adapted from a recipe by Rose Hattabaugh for Milk Street