Whether your tomato plants are going gang busters or you just can’t help but get that extra basket of heirlooms at the farmers market, you might be running out of fresh ideas for fresh tomatoes here at the end of August.
Earlier this week I had a package of chicken thighs, market tomatoes that needed using and no recipe that really called to me. I dug out my Le Creuset covered deep covered saute pan (a very appreciated gift via a family member working at Sur la Table last year) and riffed on a few recipes I’ve cooked over the summer.
I served the creation over Trader Joe’s brown Jasmine rice and we each had a fresh ear of buttered Jersey corn. The velvety cooked tomatoes, tender chicken and juicy fresh corn made the perfect late-summer dish. Sunny flavors but comforting with the breeze outside blowing a little cooler from the north. Fall is heading our way.
Neal loved it, fondly saying it reminded him of one of his dinners in Spain, Pollo al Ahillo, and the awkward but accurate English translation on that long-ago menu: Chicken to the Garlic.
Chicken to the Garlic with Farm Fresh Tomatoes
Serves 2 – 4, depending on appetites and side dishes. Recipe easily doubles.
- 4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 or 2 TBS olive oil
- 1.5 – 2 cups chopped fresh heirloom or garden tomatoes (grape or cherry tomatoes are great, slice in half) you can mix your favorite size/shape/variety of tomatoes
- 1/3 cup shallot, minced
- 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and chopped
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 to 1 tsp fresh thyme
- salt (sea or kosher) and ground pepper
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 TBS salted and roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) optional
Salt and pepper the chicken thighs and set aside while prepping the other items.
Toss tomatoes and shallots with a few pinches salt and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Let sit while prepping the garlic. This gives the salt a little time to release the tomato flavor.
In a heavy-bottomed pot with a well-fitting lid (a dutch oven is ideal), heat 1 – 2 TBS olive oil over medium-high heat and brown the chicken thighs, 4 – 7 minutes per side. Remove the thighs to a plate and reduce heat to medium low. Add the garlic and cumin, stir until fragrant – about a minute.
Add the tomato and shallot mix, stirring to deglaze the pot to get that rich chicken flavor. Add the water, stir, then nestle the browned chicken thighs down into the mix. It’s alright if they aren’t covered by the tomatoes.
Sprinkle the thyme over the thighs, cover and simmer on medium-low until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
When the chicken is nearly cooked through, if the mixture seems too watery, finish cooking uncovered, spooning the liquid and tomatoes over the thighs every few minutes. Adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer and let it thicken slightly. Do not let the pot cook dry – you want the tomato garlic mixture to remain very moist, easily filling a spoon with liquid alone. Add more water if your chicken isn’t cooked through but the tomato mixture is no longer juicy.
Serve over your favorite rice or shaped pasta, generously spooning on the tomatoes, garlic and lovely juices. Sprinkle the pepitas over top. Pairs wonderfully with fresh corn.
A Few Notes:
- You can easily substitute drum-sticks for chicken thighs. Whichever you use, you only want a single layer of them in your pot. (Or brown in batches and, later, switch top layer with bottom layer halfway through cooking with the tomatoes so they cook evenly.)
- The chicken’s bones and skin, cooked at a medium-low heat with the lid on, give the tomatoes, shallots and garlic a velvety texture. Using boneless/skinless cuts will change the dish.
- Do not use chicken stock or broth. By only adding water you let those fresh, local tomatoes shine! Browning the chicken first, setting it aside, then making the dish in the same pot will carry plenty of great chicken flavor.
- The leftovers reheat fantastically the next day!
- I take the worst food pictures on the planet. I mixed yellow and red tomatoes to beautiful effect, you can too!
- A tried-and-true Pollo al Ajillo recipe is here if my version with fresh tomatoes seems a little fast and loose.