I am so proud of my friend Deb Perelman and her Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which is taking the world by storm. She’s proving, with her New York Times bestseller status and Amazon-clobbering sales rank, that food bloggers are here to be taken seriously. It’s especially exciting because Deb and I have the same cookbook agent and we sold our books around the same time, toasting our endeavors with a toasted marshmallow milkshake at Stand. And on December 17th, we’ll be sharing the stage at the New York Public Library for a discussion all about our books and food blogging in general. (Details below.)
When you flip through Deb’s book, it’s easy to see why it’s having such success: one recipe after the other is a recipe you feel like you have to make right away. I made many mental notes as I scanned its pages, but the recipe I was dying to try first was her Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes and Olives.
It’s such a simple concept, but, as with all Deb’s recipes, a simple concept yields tremendous flavor. You start by browning chicken parts in olive oil in a skillet:
I used legs and thighs that were still attached; unlike the breast, which can dry out easily, these are more forgiving.
After the legs and thighs are good and brown (and, as Deb says, this is the most important step) you add a combination of grapes, Kalamata olives and thinly sliced shallots.
Into a 450 degree oven it goes for 20 minutes. When it comes out, it looks something like this:
The olives and grapes have shriveled, slightly, and given up their juices. You remove them, along with the chicken, to a platter and make a sauce using white wine and chicken stock:
That sauce is so good, you want to drink it with a straw. Instead, I made polenta using Peter Dale’s recipe from my cookbook: 2 cups water, 2 cups whole milk brought to a simmer, slow-cooking polenta whisked in with a big pinch of salt and cooked, slowly (about 30 minutes), until nice and thick. Finish it with some butter, if you want to be decadent, and grated Parmesan cheese.
And so the finished dish is a marriage of our two cookbooks: polenta topped with Deb’s chicken, olives and grapes and that outrageous sauce.
Deb garnishes with chopped up rosemary, but I skipped that step (in order to save a few dollars. I’m cheap like that.)
If you live in New York, come see us on the 17th! And if you don’t, be sure to buy both our cookbooks and keep them together on the coffee table, maybe performing a puppet version of what you imagine our conversation to be like. That won’t be weird. No, not at all.
Congrats, Deb, on a fantastic book!
Recipe: Deb Perelman’s Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes and Olives
Summary: A fantastic recipe adapted from the new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.
- 3 pounds chicken parts (thighs, drumsticks, and/or breasts), with skin and bones
- Table salt (I used kosher)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (or enough to coat your skillet)
- 1 cup seedless grapes
- 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees with a rack in the middle. Pat chicken dry, and season generously with salt and freshly ground pepper. Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Working in two batches, brown the chicken, skin side down first and turning them over once, about 5 minutes per batch. Take your time here: the browner the chicken, the better the dinner will be.
- Return the pieces to the pan, skin side up, and surround the pieces with grapes, olives, and shallots. Roast the chicken in the oven until it has just cooked through and juices run clear, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken, grapes, and olives to a platter, then add wine and chicken broth to the pan juices in the skillet. Bring liquid to a boil, scraping up any brown bits, until it has reduced by half, for 2 to 3 minutes. Strain sauce, if desired, then pour it over the chicken. Garnish with rosemary, if you have it, and (quoting Deb): “see how long it takes guests to offer to slurp the sauce up with a spoon.”
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4