There’s something to be said for those stick to your ribs kind of dinners. Especially, when its freezing outside. As we hunkered down for a long snow day at home yesterday, it seemed like the perfect time to prepare one of those dinners. Ours was breaded Chicken Legs and Potatoes.
As the temperatures dropped and the snow flakes rapidly blanketed the ground, I patiently began my dinner preps. Patience. Patience is definitely the key to this dish. This is the kind of meal that shouldn’t be made when your in a rush. It should be made when you have plenty of time. Ya know – kind of like when your stranded at home during a snow storm!
Undoubtedly, this dish could somehow be thrown together in a crock pot when your short on time but there is something to be said for patiently waiting on a chicken dinner to cook in the oven. I love how the oven slightly warms the house while spreading that down home cooking smell through the air. That feeling just cant be replicated with the slow cooker.
I’m sure everyone has their own version of chicken and potatoes. This particular dish is more of an Italian version, it’s made with breaded chicken legs and potatoes that bake in the oven with tomatoes for a few hours. Like so many Italian dishes chicken and potatoes is made so many different ways from region to region. This variation I am sharing evolved from Mama Lina’s (my mother in law) version of Breaded Chicken Legs with Potatoes and tomatoes.
Here’s how my version goes:
First, I mix San marzano diced/peeled tomatoes together with olive oil, garlic, onion and parsley in a bowl. I gently squeeze the tomatoes to release more juice. Then set aside…
TIP: Because I use seasoned breadcrumbs I don’t season tomatoes with salt and pepper.
Next, I begin to prepare the chicken. I prefer to remove the skin from the chicken (you can leave it on if you like). Then I wash the chicken and dry it. You can choose to season your chicken now with salt and pepper (again, sometimes I don’t because of the flavored bread crumbs) Then in a bowl I combine some eggs with a little water and grated parmesan cheese. In another bowl add some breadcrumbs.
In a large roasting pan I add water and more oil. Then after dipping each leg into the egg wash and breadcrumbs, I place them inside the roasting pan. I like to leave large gaps between the legs to leave room for the potatoes.
Then I begin to prepare the potatoes by peeling, washing, drying and then quartering them.
TIP: IF THE POTATO IS REALLY THICK WHEN QUARTERED THEN CUT IN HALF AGAIN – DO TRY AND KEEP ALL THE PIECES THE SAME SIZE.
I place them in a bowl with olive oil, a little breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. After tossing them together I take a small amount of the tomato mixture and coat the potatoes with that as well. I place the potatoes in the pan in between the open gaps. Then when that’s all done I take the tomatoes with ALL the juices and evenly pour that over the entire roasting pan.
NOTE: I don’t find it necessary to par boil the potatoes first because they soften quite a bit during the first hour under the foil. – They crisp up nicely when the foil is removed.
Once the oven is preheated I tightly cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in the oven. I remove the foil about an hour later and with a spoon gently baste the top of the chicken legs and potatoes with the juices. I conitnue to cook in the oven uncovered until done. Usually about another 45 minutes or so (but use a meat thermometer to test for doneness). You can also flip the potatoes over as the tops begin to get really crispy (sometimes I do … sometimes I don’t)
TIP: If the potatoes don’t look crispy enough but the chicken is cooked simply remove the legs to a dish and cover. Then place the potatoes back into the oven and turn up the heat to 400 degrees F and continue to cook another 15 minutes and that should do it.
NOTE: Italians (at least the Italians I know) like their meat really cooked and done, my husband included. So if the chicken legs in my recipe become too dry for you then you can reduce the cooking time to suit your needs – just be certain the chicken is cooked through.
Please remember that all ovens cook differently. I use a convection oven so you may need to adjust the temperature and/or the cooking time to your needs.
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