I think it's pretty much safe to say that when you serve a dish at a dinner party and it's all your guests talk about for the rest of the night, on the ride home, and AGAIN the next morning; then you can consider that a huge success!
And I must admit that I am now converted - I will never again, for any recipe that calls for a whole chicken cut-up, wimp out and buy skinless, boneless chicken breasts from the store. I knew that the chicken would be tastier with the bone-in and the skin-on so I finally called our local butcher and ordered two little guys cut up into 10 pieces each. And WOW did it make a difference!
This was one of the juiciest, most delicious chicken dinners I have ever eaten, and to quote one of the guests, "I would order this at a restaurant". I really don't think it was my cooking skills either - you pretty much spread the chicken out on a baking sheet and let the oven do the work!
Use the pancetta and olives even if you don't like them - just cooking them with the chicken will add another flavor profile that you shouldn't pass up. Seriously, make this for your next party - it will be a winner! And special props to Katie for pointing me in the direction of this recipe!
Roast Chicken with Pancetta and Olives
Makes 8 servings
2 chickens (about 3 1/2 pounds each), cut into 10 or 12 pieces
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped thyme
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
10 garlic cloves, peeled
2 (1/4-inch-thick) slices pancetta, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup dry white wine
24 oil-cured black olives
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F with a rack in the middle of the oven.
Arrange chicken, skin side-up on a large, rimmed baking sheet (cover sheet with foil for easier clean-up). Combine olive oil, thyme, rosemary, salt, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon pepper; rub onto top of chicken pieces.
Scatter garlic and pancetta on top of chicken and roast until chicken begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Drizzle wine over chicken and roast another 8 minutes. Scatter olives over chicken and roast until skin is golden brown and chicken is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes more.
Let stand 10 minutes. Transfer to serving plate and top with remaining juices.