This recipe came to me via a long time friend of my parents, Obe. He had retired to Florida from a long career traveling the world in the merchant marines. Obe was a character (understatement), told wonderful stories, and threw great parties. His recipe has been in my files for decades. It seems timeless, and I return to it again and again when I want something simple but impressive. Do you have those as well? What are your timeless recipes? Obe’s Chicken is simple but it’s a winner because of the presentation. My mother called it “Game Hens Obe” because Obe made it with halved Cornish game hens. I’ve adapted the recipe (the first spring asparagus was too inviting and the game hens were all frozen). The original recipe called for halved game hens, small baking onions, and lightly steamed green beans. That’s the way Obe served it. The sumac is my own addition, I like the slight lemony flavor and lovely color. You could easily leave it out without compromising any flavor.
This is the perfect introduction to spring, an attractive platter full of lovely colors and aromas. The recipe is easily doubled or tripled and could be the centerpiece of a large dinner party. It’s time for your best china and stemware.
- 6 chicken leg/thigh pieces or 3 game hens, halved
- 6 Plum tomatoes (one for each serving), may substitute whole canned plum tomatoes
- 12 large shallots or small boiling onions
- 1 tablespoon ground sumac
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 bunch of asparagus, tough ends snapped off and peeled if necessary
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- splash of wine vinegar
- Dry the chicken with paper towels and put into a large bowl. Rub with the sumac, paprika, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Peel the shallots or onions.
- Skin the tomatoes (if using fresh) by dropping them into boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and cool, the skins should easily peel off. Leave them whole.
- Line a roasting pan with foil, put a rack in the pan to keep the chicken above the juices (I used a couple of cake cooling racks). Place the chicken on the racks in a single layer.
- Drop the shallots or onions into the bowl which had contained the chicken, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and roll them around to cover with any residual spice mix. Add them to the roasting pan with the chicken, nestling them among the chicken pieces. Brush the chicken with any olive oil remaining in the bowl. Bake in middle part of the oven for 45 minutes. Check to see if cooked through (game hens could take longer depending on their size).
- Meanwhile rinse the asparagus and place in a single layer on a parchment lined baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in the oven with the chicken for the final 12 minutes.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet, preferably non-stick, on medium heat. Add the tomatoes and cook, turning occasionally, until they are beginning to soften. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl.
- When the chicken is done, remove from the oven and carefully add any juices to the skillet where the tomatoes were cooked. Bring to a boil, add the sugar and continue to cook until it turns syrupy. Add a splash of wine vinegar.
- Carefully add the tomatoes (plus any accumulated juices) and shallots (or onions) from the baking pan to the skillet to warm and coat with the sauce.
- Spread the asparagus on a warm platter, top with the chicken, then the tomatoes and shallots. Pour any sauce over all.
Serve each person a portion of asparagus, chicken, a tomato, and two shallots.
I’m taking a platter to the party at Fiesta Friday hosted by Angie at the Novice Gardener.