Iron Skillet Roasted Chicken with White Beans and Tomatoes

Ready to serve

After what seemed like forever, I left New York (again) and went home to Maine (again). The next days were filled with errands, getting the house settled before the Dear One’s return, and breakfast and giggling with my girlfriends.

But in the evening, I was home alone, and then suddenly you realize just how big the house is and how empty, and you want to have people around you, so then the conversations went something like this …

Thank you so much for watching the house and picking me up and picking up the mail and packages and turning up the heat. Wanna come for dinner? Sure, but I have a house guest. Bring him. The more the merrier.

Hey, I’m back in town. Wanna come over for dinner? Sure!

Okay, dinner for 2 is now dinner for 4. I can do that. Same recipe, just no leftovers.

Uh, oh, the phone is ringing … we’re going out for dinner, do you want to come. Sorry, can’t, company coming. Oh, well, I’d much rather come to your house. Sure, come on over. GREAT! But I have a house guest. Bring her along.

Dinner for 2 turned into dinner for 4 and then into dinner for 6. Yipes! Now what!? I trolled through the recipes I have been dying to try and found this recipe that I had first seen in Relish Magazine and then in  Y’all Come Over by Patsy Caldwell and Amy Lyles Wilson. One skillet. Perfect. Lots of great ingredients. Fab! Seriously simple and quick to make. Even better! Turned out to be really easy to double, just switching from a 10″ cast iron skillet to a 15″ cast iron skillet.

(Heard around the dinner table … hmmm, yum, this is so good. So glad you’re back home. We missed you. Does M know you’re having 4 men over for dinner while he’s away? Answers: thank you, I am too, and me you, and OF COURSE he knows. HEAVY SIGH!)

As it turns out it was a good thing I fed them all BEFORE the insanity started! See, it seems I live my life like Lucy Riccardo. No, really. Stop giggling, please, I have so little dignity left.

This group of fellows and my dear friend Lisa were my saviors for the week and a half I was home alone. There were locked doors and dog doors (and snow) and pterodactyls (and snow) and more locked doors and broken windows that needed to be removed and replaced (and snow) and lost spare tires and snow and cancelled flights because of snow and more cancelled flights (can you believe more snow in Maine) and yet more cancelled flights (you know the word that fits here) and a wee bit of emotional upheaval.

While I realize I have kept them all VERY entertained (when one of them now hears my voice on the phone, he laughs, asks if I’m okay, and then ‘so what did you do’), they kept me very entertained and feeling loved and cared for during my first time home alone trial by fire.

Give this dish a whirl … you will be making it for company again and again!

  • 1/4 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled (reserve drippings)
  • 1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 1 1/2 t salt, divided
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/2 C thinly sliced onion
  • 1 can (14-oz) stewed tomatoes
  • 1 t crushed red pepper
  • 2 cans (15-oz) Great Northern beans, drained

NOTE: I sort of increased this to 1 1/2 of the original above recipe, but using 3 cans of beans and two cans of the tomatoes and 4 1/2 pounds of chicken thighs.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bacon

Place the bacon drippings in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat.

NOTE: I made the bacon in the skillet I used to make the whole dish and just left the drippings in the skillet.

Dry the chicken pieces with a paper towel, and season with 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Brown the chicken in the bacon drippings, turning once, until the skin is golden brown. Remove the chicken to a plate and keep warm.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat and stir in the onions. Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes, scraping up any brown bits.

Adding tomatoes

Add the tomatoes, crushed red pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook uncovered for about 4 minutes or until the juices are thickened. Add the reserved bacon and the beans. Top with the browned chicken pieces, skin side up. Place skillet in the oven and bake uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes.

Some bread to sop up the sauce, a salad, and you are done!

Hasselback Potatoes with Bacon

Potatoes Finished
A side dish. A side dish. Don’t you just find yourself making the same ones over and over again? Rice, potatoes, orzo (no comments, Marg!) I find that particularly true with POTATOES … mashed, baked, roasted, baked, mashed, roasted, and roasted again … B-O-R-I-N-G.
If this dinner was going all the way, the potato had to go all the way as well.  I had seen Nigella make these years ago and had tagged them in Forever Summer to try one of these days.
Always to be one to gild the lily, I added BACON. Bacon makes everything better!
  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
  • 2 slices thick cut bacon, cut crosswise into 9 pieces
  • 2+ tablespoons butter, melted
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375º.

After peeling potatoes, place them in a bowl of cold water to prevent browning.

Lay the bacon pieces on a baking sheet and freeze until hard, about 30 minutes. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

Cutting Potatoes

Add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and carefully transfer to a baking sheet; let cool slightly.

NOTE: This just gets them started cooking a little faster.

One at a time place potato lengthwise on a cutting board. Place wooden spoons lengthwise along the potato. Cut slices across the short side of the potato, about 1/8 inch apart. The wooden spoons will prevent your knife from cutting completely through the potato. You don’t want to cut through to the bottom of the potato.

Stuffed with Bacon

Once cut,place potatoes on a baking sheet and insert 3 pieces of the frozen bacon into the cuts of each potato, spacing the bacon evenly and letting it poke out of the top. Melt 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter and brush generously over the potatoes and in the cuts. Reserve any excess butter for basting. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.

NOTE: Okay, so I used more than THREE pieces in each potato. THREE? Seriously?

Transfer the potatoes to the oven and bake until the outsides are browned and crisp, about 40 minutes, basting halfway through with the reserved melted butter.

Season with salt and pepper.

Vidalia Onion & Bacon Pie

One of my favorite features of the Sunday New York Daily News is Relish Magazine. The cooking sections in the New York area papers have become seriously lacking, so when Relish came along a number of years ago, it was a welcome addition.

I don’t remember if I saw this recipe on their website or in the magazine, but I knew instantly that this was something that needed to be made.

It’s a little preparation bogged down, but the end result is certainly worth the time. A friend of mine made this as well, but the bacon on only half as there is a vegetarian in the house. Though my non-red meat eating sister will tell you bacon doesn’t count. It is its own food group.

I have already been thinking of different twists on this and know I will come back to it again and again.

Crust:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2  C cornmeal
  • 1/2  C all-purpose flour
  • 1  t baking powder
  • 1/2  t salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2  T butter
  • 2 to 4  T ice water

NOTE: The crust needed something more. Maybe a little more salt. Maybe a little sugar. Oh, maybe a kick of cayenne. But the cornmeal crust was wonderful. Perfect for filling with tomatoes and mozzarella and basil.

Filling:

  • 1  T butter
  • 3  medium Vidalia or sweet onions, slivered
  • 2  eggs
  • 1/2  C half-and-half
  • 1/2  t salt
  • 1/4  t freshly ground black pepper, plus more for top
  • 1  C (4-ounces) shredded white Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2  C corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 4  slices thick, smoky-style bacon, cooked and chopped

NOTE: FOUR? Only FOUR? Now, you know that would never do! I cheated, I used a a couple more.  I silvered the onions by cutting each in half and the thinly slicing them. Cutting through the pie, the slivers are too long and difficult to cut while slicing and eating. Next time maybe the slivers need to be cut a bit – most likely AFTER caramelizing them.

To prepare crust, coat a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate with cooking spray

Place cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a pastry cutter blade; pulse to combine. Add egg and butter; pulse until mixed. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a dough ball forms. This will form a sticky mass of dough. Press into pan. If the dough is too sticky, add a little cornmeal.

NOTE:  I used nearly 2 tablespoons of water to form a ball. But when I took it out of the food processor it was really sticky. Instead of putting the blade back in and getting the sticky mess back into the bowl, I sprinkled cornmeal over the top and that kept the dough from sticking to my hands.

Preheat oven to 350F.

To prepare filling, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Drain if necessary.

NOTE: And – purely with an eye toward waste not want not  – I cooked the onions in the bacon fat.  I did still add the butter in – can you have enough butter or bacon? I don’t think so either!

Combine eggs, half-and-half, salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk well. On bottom of pie, sprinkle half the shredded cheese. Top with corn kernels,  onions and bacon.

Pour egg mixture over top. Top with remaining cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

Bake 40 minutes, until top is set and browned.

NOTES: Before baking, I sprinkled the top with chopped scallions. Be careful not to over bake. The cheese gets a little too dense if it gets too brown. I think this would be nice with leeks as well.

This is great as a side dish for grilled chicken, alone with a big salad … or just by itself because you cannot stop eating it and are VERY impressed with your own creation!