Tender and Crisp Chicken legs with Sweet Tomatoes

Thanks to my new best friend in the Kitchen, Jamie Oliver, I was still able to make a few very simple meals while bed ridden this past month. His cookbook Jamie’s Dinners* is now among my favorites. The best part is that he writes exactly how I want to cook (a wineglass of this and a handful of that). Unlike so many recipes that pretend to give you such liberty and then result in tasteless mediocrity, Jamie truly sets you free to play with the recipe, sub-out ingredients, and learn to love, and even more importantly, become comfortable in your kitchen.

• 4 chicken legs, preferably free-range or organic, jointed**
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• a big bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped
• 2 big handfuls of red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved, and ripe plum tomatoes, quartered
• 1 whole bulb of garlic, broken up into cloves
• 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
• olive oil

• 1 x 410g tin of cannellini beans, drained
• 2 handfuls of new potatoes, scrubbed

“Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Season your chicken pieces all over and put them into a snug-fitting pan in one layer. Throw in all the basil leaves and stalks, then chuck in your tomatoes. Scatter the garlic cloves into the pan with the chopped chilli and drizzle over some olive oil. Mix around a bit, pushing the tomatoes underneath. Place in the oven for 1½ hours***, turning the tomatoes halfway through, until the chicken skin is crisp and the meat falls off the bone.

If you fancy, you can add some drained cannellini beans or some sliced new potatoes to the pan and cook them with the chicken. Or you can serve the chicken with some simple mashed potato. Squeeze the garlic out of the skins before serving. You could even make it part of a pasta dish – remove the chicken meat from the bone and shred it, then toss into a bowl of linguini or spaghetti and serve at once.”

*Official review to soon follow
**I just use good old drumsticks
***I typically cook this a bit closer to 2 hrs.