Chicken with Savoury Tomato Sauce

This meal gathered my skittish mind together. I made rice pudding and plums in late afternoon, they shared a low oven from 4-7pm (130C, no fan). Then the chicken, potatoes and salad took 40 minutes all in. I leafed through Elizabeth David’s Provincial Cooking and Marcella Hazan Classic Italian Cooking but couldn’t settle on a recipe – nonetheless my browsing shaped the flavours.

We ate the chicken with cubed roasted potatoes that I seasoned with finely chopped fresh rosemary just before serving. Crusty bread would also be great. Afterwards we had a fennel, orange and red onion salad, then rice pudding, roasted plums and cream.

Chicken with Savoury Tomato Sauce

1-2 chicken thighs, per person (bone in, skin on)

3 large garlic cloves, peeled and whole

4 ripe, medium tomatoes (mine were frozen from last summer – use 4 whole plum tomatoes from a tin instead if you cannot find ripe ones)

2 bay leaves

4 anchovies, roughly chopped

unsalted butter

olive oil

How to make:

Season the chicken thighs with salt and black pepper. In a heavy frying pan that can snugly accommodate the ingredients, melt a walnut sized piece of butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a medium heat. When the froth from the butter in the pan is subsiding, lay the chicken thighs, skin-side down. Set a timer for 5 minutes and do not move the chicken before the timer goes off.

 – meanwhile, if using raw tomatoes, boil 1/2 a kettle of water and pour the boiling water over tomatoes in a bowl. Leave for 1 minute, then peel off the skin. Chop the tomatoes roughly. If using tinned plum tomatoes, simply chop them roughly.

When the timer goes off, check the chicken skin – if it’s not golden brown yet, leave for a few more minutes skin side down before turning over and lowering the heat to lightly colour the other side. Remove the chicken to a plate when it’s coloured all over but not cooked through. Tip the oil and browned butter out of the frying pan too, and wipe with a kitchen towel.

Place a new walnut sized piece of butter into the pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and set on a low-medium heat. Add in the whole, peeled garlic cloves and fry them in the fat until lightly browned all over, then lower the heat and add the bay leaves and the anchovies. Stir the anchovies until the break up. Add the tomatoes and simmer on a low heat until they disintegrate into a loose sauce. At this point, add the chicken back in, and cover with a disc of greaseproof paper and some foil and simmer on a low heat lightly bubbling until the chicken is cooked through, around 10-15 minutes.

Let it rest for 5 minutes and season to taste with salt and pepper.

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