Vanessa Chang
(A Glutton with Brains)


a glutton with brains

A Roast Chicken for Summer


I love it when my friends let me feed them. Case in point, a photo shoot with my photographer friend Adam and a few other willing folks. The goal of the evening was to practice food styling and photography and, of course, eating together. Being the carnivore that he is, Adam requested to shoot meat. "We've never shot anything with bones before," he implored.

So I obliged. Simple chicken. I don't remember where I got the recipe. It seemed I'd made it so many times before it was more of an intuition than a recipe. Thighs and drumsticks, sauteed, and roasted with rosemary, a bit of wine, and showered with fresh ripe tomatoes. It is summer after all. The photo above is the real deal. No fake coloring touch ups, no fake meat, or falsely cooked. It was still sizzling from the oven and perfuming the studio when Adam was shooting frame after frame. Not too long, though, for the dish was still succulent and warm when we all dug in.

Roast Chicken for Summer

I like dark meat, so I prefer to use thighs and drumsticks. If you buy the whole leg, cut through the joint with a knife to yield to pieces. Of course, you can use a whole chicken you've so deftly cut into serving pieces yourself. Excellent warm, it's also stunning cold as leftovers.

4 whole legs, cut into thighs and drumsticks, seasoned with salt and pepper * olive oil * butter * 1 shallot, diced * fresh rosemary sprigs * white wine * salt and pepper * fresh cherry tomatoes, diced OR fresh tomatoes, diced

Heat a large sautepan over high heat. Reduce to medium, add a glug of olive oil and a pat of butter. Add the chicken pieces (making sure they're patted dry) and saute until golden brown (about 5 minutes). Turn pieces and cook until golden, as well. Remove pieces from pan and set aside.

With the sautepan over medium heat, add the shallot and saute until translucent, adding more oil or butter if necessary. Using the spine of a chef's knife, bruise the woody stem of the fresh rosemary sprig. Add this to the pan and stir  for a minute. Add a glassful (or two) of white wine and deglaze the pan scraping up the browned bits.

Return chicken pieces to the pan in a single layer (or transfer to a casserole as pictured above) and place in a preheated 400 degree oven. Cook for another 30 to 35 minutes. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, add your tomatoes. Or you can them fresh, depending on how good the tomatoes are. Serves 6.