Recipe: Parmesan Roast Chicken with Cauliflower & Thyme
Fill a roasting pan with chicken, cauliflower and some select savoury goodies and say goodbye to the bleak midwinter blues
By Louise Crosby
This is a tricky time of year. Some days are so balmy you don’t need a coat, the snow evaporates before your very eyes, and you feel giddy at the thought of spring. Other days it’s back to the deep freeze, the long johns, and those heavy, awful boots. Yup, last week I was re-potting house plants on my back deck while the cat basked, belly-up, in the sun. This week, with daytime highs averaging -10 degrees C, I’ve lost interest in doing much of anything, especially outdoors. Such is life at the end of a long winter in Canada.
But even as the mood swings from euphoric to resigned, I have managed to cook, since mucking around in the kitchen usually results in something good to eat, and we need to eat no matter what the season. And this Parmesan Roast Chicken with Cauliflower & Thyme, from Simple, the latest cookbook by British food writer Diana Henry, is just the thing to pull us up from the doldrums while we wait for the skating rink on the driveway to melt.
It’s a cinch to make: skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, baby potatoes, cauliflower florets, and onion wedges are tossed with olive oil, fresh thyme, and salt and pepper, then laid out in a single layer in a roasting pan (or two), making sure all the pieces have plenty of room so they will roast rather than steam. Near the end of the cooking time, the whole lot is sprinkled with finely grated Parmesan cheese, then roasted a few minutes more until everything is golden and the chicken is crispy. And that’s it. Add a green salad and you’ve got a fast and easy weeknight meal.
The recipe doesn’t call for cooked potatoes but I didn’t want to take a chance and boiled them before proceeding. There’s nothing worse than al dente potatoes, unless it’s al dente eggplant.
Parmesan Roast Chicken with Cauliflower & Thyme
8 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
¾ pound baby round red or round white potatoes, halved
1 cauliflower, broken into good-sized florets
2 onions, cut into wedges
8 sprigs of thyme (or more, to taste)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (or more, to taste)
Sea salt flakes and pepper
⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Boil the potatoes in salted water until nearly done, then drain.
Put the chicken, potatoes, cauliflower, and onions into a roasting pan (or two) in which everything can lie in a single layer, or the chicken and vegetables will sweat instead of roasting. Tear in the thyme, pour in the oil, and season. Toss everything around with your hands, finishing with the chicken skin-side up. Sprinkle the chicken with sea salt flakes to help the skin crisp up.
Roast, tossing occasionally – you have to ensure that the cauliflower turns golden all over, not just on one side – for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese, toss to combine, and roast for another 10 minutes. Place under the broiler for a couple of minutes if the chicken still needs browning. The chicken and potatoes should be cooked through, the onions slightly scorched at the tips, and the surface of everything golden.
Photo by Louise Crosby
THE EX-PRESS, March 4, 2017