Here is a good recipe for a crowd. If you judge the cooking time right, and you use good, fresh, free-range chicken, you'll end up with the most succulent, tender chicken, infused with a summery flavour of tomatoes and basil. This recipe was inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe that I saw while browsing one of his books in Exclusive Books. I tried to memorise the ingredients, but by the time I'd got home I'd forgotten them. I remembered the tomatoes, both chopped ones and cherry ones, and had to invent the rest of the recipe. Here's a quick version using my all-purpose cooking elixir.
Oven-roasted Chicken with Tomato, Feta and Olives
For the marinade:
1 cup (250 ml) cooking elixir*
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary needles
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
For the dish:
8 pieces of free-range chicken (thighs and breasts are best)
salt and milled black pepper
1 large punnet ripe cherry tomatoes
4 plump, ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 cup (250 ml) white wine
a handful fresh basil leaves
1/2 (125 ml) cup black olives
2 disks feta cheese (about 1 heaped cup when crumbled). I use Simonsberg black-pepper feta, which crumbles beautifully. Don't use Danish feta cheese.
½ cup (125 ml) cream (optional)
Place the chicken pieces in a large ceramic or stainless-steel oven dish. Season well with salt and pepper. With a fork, aggressively prick the chicken pieces all over, top and bottom. Shake your jar of cooking elixir well, measure out a cup and pour it over the chicken pieces, turning each one well to coat. Place in a cool spot and allow to marinate for at least an hour (or overnight, in the fridge).
Preheat the oven to its highest setting (22o°C on most ovens), and place the dish in the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the chicken skin is golden and beginning to blister.
Remove the dish from the oven and drain off excess fat by tilting the dish over the sink. Scatter the cherry tomatoes and quartered tomatoes all over and in between the chicken pieces. Pour in the wine. Roughly tear the basil pieces and tuck down between the chicken pieces.
Return the dish to the oven, turn the the heat down to 180°C and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken pieces are cooked right through. (Test by poking a knife into the thickest part of the chicken thigh: if the juices are crystal clear and unbloody, the chicken is ready). Remove the dish from the oven, and toss the chicken pieces so they are well covered with juices. If you are feeling decadent, add the cream now. Scatter with olives and crumbled feta cheese. Put the dish back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
Allow to rest for five minutes before serving. Scatter with freshly torn basil and serve with new potatoes or crusty bread, and a green salad.
* If you haven't made a batch of cooking elixir, use this marinade:
3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
Juice and finely grated rind of two lemons
1 T (15 ml) soy sauce
1 tsp (5 ml) Tabasco sauce
100 ml olive oil
10 ml dried oregano