El Niño is at the door and he’s not leaving. Good thing we got prepped for this lasting rainy cold weather last year in France. And in France, like in most places, food saves the day. Because we live in Los Angeles, we don’t get too ornery about vacation weather fails. I mean it’s nice that we’re even on vacation, but constant downpours in the city of lights sorta dampened strolling and site-seeing. But don’t cry for me Argentina because the French also figured out indoors, giving us some pretty okay museums and restaurants and umbrella stands.

In Aix en Provence, my sister and fam pumped us like geese full of cheeses, breads, charcuterie, wine and traditional French fare.  We swooned over this poulet provencal dinner that she served with sautéed eggplant and zucchini, and crusty bread.  I’ve made it a few times since on rainy weather days, changing it up to reflect available fridge produce and our appetites, but I never waiver from the seasonings that make this dish recognizably special and oh so French.  Something about fragrant roast chicken that turns a drab musty atmosphere into an aromatic bistro and warms the soul.

With help from chicken, garlic, and herbs de Provence this complete and completely adaptable sheet pan meal (big fans of sheet pan meals, see here and here) comes together without bother.  A do-ahead concept plus hands-off cooking that gives us plenty of time to plan our next non-precipitous vacation.

simple ingredients, big flavorYou know what the chicken said to the tomatoes, fennel, and potatoes, “you complete me.”   And then it said “uh oh, did she just turn on the oven?”

sheet pan as a mixing bowl

In the sheet pan, we toss the vegetables in some of the seasoning and then move them to the outer edge to make room for the chicken.

the chicken was nestled

With the remaining herbs and garlic, we create a seasoning paste to tuck under the skin and to rub on top, and then bake.

seasoning paste

Baking is your free time to set the table, drink a glass of rosé, read Charlie Hebdo, or watch the first act of Jerry McGuire (spoiler, Jerry gets fired, like your chicken).

poulet provencal

And voíla. From a single pan onto a single platter, dinner is served.

chicken provencal, one pan meal

We used skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts because we favor white meat and the flavors from the skin and bones are intensely satisfying.  Whole chicken or boneless chicken breasts or even thighs also work, but adjust roasting times accordingly.  A whole chicken might take 50-75 minutes and skinless breasts 20-25 minutes. Test with a thermometer, if possible, to 170°.

preptime: 25 minutes                                                                     serves 4-6

roasttime: 35-40 minutes

  • 1 pound tomatoes (3 to 4 medium), cut into wedges
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges, leaving root ends intact
  • 1 fennel bulb, halved and core removed, 1/2″ slices
  • 5-6 small potatoes (about 1 lb), halved or cut into 2″ pieces
  • 4 large garlic cloves, sliced, plus 1 teaspoon minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 5 chicken breasts (or whole 3/12 lb or 6-7 boneless, skinless), excess fat removed, patted dry
    Garnish: chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Preheat to 400°F.
  2. On a large sheet pan, toss together tomatoes, onion, fennel, potatoes, sliced garlic, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence, fennel seeds, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Push vegetables to sides of dish to make room for chicken.
  3. Stir together minced garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, remaining teaspoon herbes de Provence, and remaining tablespoon olive oil.
  4. Rub mixture under skin of chicken breasts and on the outside of each piece.
  5. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part (do not touch bone) registers 170°F, about 25-35 minutes (will depend on size of breasts & oven), so check temp at 25 minutes or cut one open.
  6. Let chicken stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with vegetables and pan juices.

recipe inspired by epicurious.com and provided by your friends at cruchtimefood.com

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