School Lunch Chicken

December 30, 2015
0 Ratings
Photo by Rony Roberts
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

As a culinary instructor at a local high school, we always have a bin or two filled with onion halves, celery ends, fennel fronds, wrinkled new potatoes, leftover cooked beans, some tomatoes or tomato products and ... chicken. So much chicken. Teaching 120 beginning students each year how to correctly fabricate a chicken leaves our fridges and freezers packed with chicken parts. We purpose most of the chicken to school banquets and some to class assignments; we make gallons of stock, but at the end of every two weeks, we clean out the reach-ins and freezer and make our lunch for our culinary classes. It always features chicken. And it's always gone in minutes.
Note: This dish happens in categories. Choose at least one item from each category to build the dish. —Rony Roberts

What You'll Need
  • 12 assorted dark meat chicken pieces (or wings) , brined if possible
  • 1 cup aromatics (onion, shallots, ginger, garlic, leeks, ramps...)
  • 1/2 cup tomato product (marinara, paste, sauce, salsa, tomato concasse...)
  • 2 cups vegetables (anything -- carrots, green beans, cabbage, peppers, celery, potatoes, fennel, squash...)
  • 2-3 tablespoons extras (olives, chiles, something pickled, anchovies, apples, raisins...)
  • 1 - 2 citrus (lemon, orange, lime...) zested and zest reserved, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, green onion tops, celery leaves, basil...) or
  • 1 tablespoon seasoning (mustard, honey, dried spices or herbs -- I like a mix of ground coriander, cumin, paprika, and thyme)
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons oil (chicken fat, bacon grease, butter, flavored oil, nut oil, olive oil, coconut oil...)
  • 1/3 cup fortified alcohol (brandy, vermouth, marsala, sherry...)
  • 3 cups starch for serving (buttered boiled potatoes, rice, barley, mashed root vegetables, noodles, croutons...)
  1. Preheat the oven to 325. Dry the chicken pieces well with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Slice, chop or mince your aromatics, herbs, and vegetables to the desired size. Assemble and prep remaining ingredients of choice.
  3. Heat the oil on medium high heat. Saute the chicken pieces for five minutes, turning frequently until pieces are golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Add aromatics and saute for two minutes. Add tomato product and saute for two more minutes, reducing and caramelizing. Add the extras, and vegetables. Saute for five minutes. Return the chicken to the pan with the accumulated juices. Season everything well with salt and pepper. Add fresh herbs or dried seasonings. Sprinkle citrus zest over the chicken and vegetables and squeeze the citrus juice over everything. Tuck the citrus peels around chicken. Sprinkle the alcohol over everything.
  5. Bake one of two ways: Preheat oven to 325 and cover skillet or pan with a lid/foil. Bake for 90 minutes. Uncover the chicken and raise the temperature to 400. Bake for another 30 minutes until liquid is reduced and the chicken is browned. or Preheat the oven to 400. Bake uncovered for 60 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve with starch of choice.

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