Genius Recipes

Jamie Oliver’s Genius One-Pot Chicken Is Simple, Saucy Comfort

Memo: Make this ASAP.

June 11, 2019

With Genius Recipes correspondent Kristen off for a few months trying to raise a genius newborn, we’re revisiting the column’s Greatest Hits—and hearing from a few special surprise guests—with brand-new videos. Wish her luck! (And keep sending those tips.)


Jamie Oliver has been known to do otherworldly things with chicken, given a few strident ingredients and enough time in a single pot. But this time, somehow, you have to do even less to get there.

This summery chicken-tomato-mélange's miraculous qualities have all the hallmarks of a braise—the fall-apart tenderness and well-developed, concentrated sauce—without having to sear anything first or spatter your stovetop or do ... much at all.

You truly can throw everything into the pot in the time it takes the oven to heat, ripping the basil leaves caveman-style and chucking them in; chopping the stems imprecisely and cleaving through small tomatoes, then chucking them in, too.

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Top Comment:
“Also, add the cannelini beans and fresh basil leaves the last 10 minutes of cooking. For added acid, I like to add two halves of a lemon to the pan and then squeeze the juices over the chicken just before serving. ”
— David H.
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Oliver’s website in fact clocks this recipe at 1 hour 35 minutes, implying just 5 minutes of assembly, which is only exaggerating a little bit. Like in this instant dinner party pork shoulder ragu, there are very few ways to improve on the good work a moderate oven and time can do.

See? In this gif, it only takes like 9 seconds!

Quick question: Did you catch that the basil stems go in, too? Have you ever seen a recipe that does this? (No really, please tell me.) The stems cook down just long enough to turn soft and almost meaty, so that all but the very woodiest ones are safe to add to the pot.

Oliver is also the king of glugs and handfuls, which can reasonably be unnerving for people who treasure the guidance of recipes, as we do. But in this instance, it’s altogether freeing. I haven’t needed to reference the actual recipe since the first time I made it. The simplicity of the technique—snuggle in pan, roast—is fairly un-stumpable, and will expand and contract to fit any size vessel you have. I like to make a lot at once, which means I’ve found the perfect use for extra-wide Dansk pan I inherited from my grandmother-in-law Virg (her pan is just like this round one, but in a deep coral/mauve).

The one thing you might feel torn about is running your oven for an hour and a half in the heat of tomato season—but as long as you’re not in one of the swampier corners of the country or world, it’s a very small price to pay. If you are, stay strong, and bookmark this for your first cool night, and all fall long.

Because as it roasts, the basil leaves turn crispy while the stems fuse into the sauce. Food52er nutcakes, who sent me this recipe years back, rightly called it “stunningly fragrant.” The chicken jus intensifies and swirls together with the slumpy tomatoes and whatever other friends you’ve thrown in with them. Cannellini beans? Baby potatoes? Collard greens? Just think: What would taste better in chicken-tomato-basil-schmaltzy-stew? Pretty much anything, right?

Photos by Julia Gartland

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Perhaps something perfect for beginners? Please send it Kristen's way (and tell her what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thank you to Food52er nutcakes for this one.


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I'm an ex-economist, ex-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."

31 Comments

Loretta M. June 15, 2019
This dish was so easy to prepare and amazingly delicious! The chicken was moist yet the skin browned up nice and crisp. I used the beans this time. It just could have used a bit more moisture in the pan. Maybe I’ll add a bit of stock towards the end next time or more tomatoes. Any suggestions Kristen?
 
David H. June 14, 2019
I just made this dish last night. Even though the recipe is a great starting off point it has problems. For instance, the recipe calls for cooking the chicken legs for 1 1/2 hours in a 350º oven. The recommended cooking temperature for red meat chicken is 180º and these chicken legs reached 180º after just 45 minutes in the oven. Another 45 minutes would've resulted in dry, overcooked chicken. Secondly, since the fresh basil was added at the beginning it was blackened and burnt after 45 minutes. And what about the canned cannelini beans? Since canned beans are already cooked why would you cook them for another 1 1/2 hours in a 350º oven? This resulted in mushy beans. To improve this recipe, increase the cooking temperature to 375º (for crispier skin) and cook the chicken for 45 minutes or until the inside temperature reaches 180º. (I prefer an even more tender chicken so I cook the chicken til 170º.) Also, add the cannelini beans and fresh basil leaves the last 10 minutes of cooking. For added acid, I like to add two halves of a lemon to the pan and then squeeze the juices over the chicken just before serving.
 
Leslee P. June 12, 2019
Your point about not wanting to use the oven in summer is well taken. I’ve had very good success using my gas grill as an oven; using the exterior temp indicator as a guide and heating one side of the grill and cooking on the other side will give you good roasting conditions and a cool kitchen.
 
Beth C. June 12, 2019
This looks great! Can't have beans due to diet restrictions. Would it work without?
 
Eric K. June 13, 2019
Hey Beth, for sure! They're optional.
 
Jenn June 12, 2019
My husband will not eat any chicken except boneless skinless breasts. (I’ve tried for 15 years to help this unfortunate affliction) How can this be adapted and still be scrumptious?
 
jodyrah June 12, 2019
Chicken stew with crispy skin, really? Basil cooked for over an hour? No, thanks.
 
Ivory December 20, 2017
Yum ths dish looks so yummy, that I can almost hear the angels singing.
 
Sharon D. September 20, 2017
Thanks for the reminder... I made this about a month ago and it was devine!!! Must do it again... like today!
 
Melanie O. August 27, 2017
I made this tonight and followed the recipe exactly, and it turned out delicious and juicy! It takes a while to cook, but assembly took me less than 10 minutes. It's an easy limited-ingredient one pot meal which looked gourmet when it was finished. I didn't have red chillies, so I used red pepper flakes as suggested. The chicken had a few pieces of excess skin which I trimmed. We're trying to reduce carbs, so instead of pasta, I served with sauteed vegetables and threw a little bit of the broth from the chicken into the sauté for a little extra flavor. Next time I would like to try the recipe with the new potatoes (forget what I just said about carbs, lol!)
 
BigMrE August 14, 2017
I made it closely following the Jamie's instructions, adding the optional thin sliced potatoes on top. It came out horrible, will not be repeated. The "sauce" was just grease and lots of weak tasting juices. The tomatoes never really incorporated into anything. Even with an extra 30 minutes roasting at 380° at the end, the chicken skin wasn't at all crispy. All in all a greasy, disappointing mess.
 
PareeDave August 2, 2017
Since you asked, Jamie's recipe for Pasta alla Norma (in *Jamie's Italy*) also calls for the stalks to be chopped up and added to the sauce, which doesn't cook for as long, so I use only the most tender stems. I find nearly every recipe of his so memorable and simple that I almost never refer back to the book after preparing once. There is a one-pot rabbit/chicken recipe in that same book that is to die for, although it does require flouring and browning the pieces first. Still...
 
Beth A. August 2, 2017
Diane - you don't peel the garlic cloves but you do remove the papery skin holding the cloves together. We served this with bread and I squeezed the garlic out of the cloves and spread on the bread and then dipped it in the liquid developed in the pan. I strained it out, put the tomatoes back on the dish to serve it with and served the liquid on the side.
 
Beth A. August 2, 2017
I made this tonight since my daughter and granddaughter were coming at the last minute. I used 4 leg quarters and 4 thighs (I wanted leftovers). I used 1 beefsteak tomato and a box of Campari tomatoes. I used a smallish bulb of garlic. I added some parsley stems (left over from the night before from salmoriglio sauce for swordfish) and all the basil - which did get dark but was still delicious. Since we were eating outdoors, I used the oven - our grill heats the deck up too much - and served it with baked potatoes and asparagus (cooked in the other oven). I did turn the oven to convection after about 45 minutes since it wasn't crisping and that did the trick. Everyone enjoyed it. Next time I'll add some dried or fresh chile pepper, as suggested, but my granddaughter doesn't enjoy a lot of spiciness yet - she is only 5 1/2. This is a keeper, for certain.
 
Mary D. July 31, 2017
Made it last night, house smelled wonderful! It was excellent, will make it again for certain.
 
Colette S. July 30, 2017
I wonder if there's a way to adapt this to an Instant Pot, instead of heating up my kitchen for an hour and a half?
 
annette July 30, 2017
Uncovered, right, because it roasts? Covered would be a braise?
 
Diane July 30, 2017
But I do have to peel the garlic right?
 
Kari July 30, 2017
did a similar version but put in Big Green Egg, raised, indirect.
covered grills are a GREAT substitute for ovens!
 
Kari July 30, 2017
did a similar version but put in Big Green Egg, raised, indirect.
covered grills are a GREAT substitute for ovens!
 
Kari July 30, 2017
did a similar version but put in Big Green Egg, raised, indirect.
covered grills are a GREAT substitute for ovens!