Roast pepper and garlic chicken: going the extra mile of flavor

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This is a dish which takes some time to prepare, but the end result is so worth it!  The sweetness of the red bell peppers and the pungency of the garlic come together beautifully and elevate the humble chicken, rendering it moist and flavorful. The meat is so tender it falls off the bone, and the sauce is amazingly wholesome. I need to exercise a great deal of self-restraint whenever I make this dish, especially with regard to the sauce. This is one of my favorite sauces to dip French bread into, and to savor for minutes on end.

Ingredients

10 chicken leg quarters (for health reasons I always take the skin off the chicken)

5 red bell peppers

6 garlic cloves (you can use more for a more garlicky taste)

1 small can (8oz) tomato sauce

5 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 bunch parsley

Salt and pepper

All in one seasoning

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Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Wash the chicken leg quarters and place them in a large roasting pan. Pour the vegetable oil on the chicken and then sprinkle on it salt, pepper and all in one seasoning.  Add water to the pan (the chicken should be half covered with water) and put the pan into the oven for 45 minutes, adding water occasionally, if needed.

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In the meantime, roast the peppers over a stove-top burner until they turn black and soft. As I mentioned when I posted the eggplant salad recipe, I always put aluminum foil on the stove (except for the burners, which are left uncovered) to make the cleaning easier afterwards:

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Don’t worry if your house smells like it’s on fire and you hear the peppers making strange popping sounds while roasting: all of this is normal. One by one, in their own time, the peppers – resembling tigers of the jungle – slowly give up, succumbed by fire:

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This is how the peppers look like when they’re done roasting:

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Peel off the skin of the peppers, run them quickly through cold water, and then cut them into 1/4in strips:

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Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Now that you have the garlic and peppers ready, it’s time to proceed to the next stage.

Take the roasting pan out of the oven. Take the chicken leg quarters out of the pan. Spread the peppers and the garlic evenly across the pan. Put the chicken back into the pan, on top of the peppers and garlic. Take the tomato sauce, dilute it with approximately 7oz water and pour it over the chicken. Add salt and pepper, if necessary. Put the chicken back into the oven for another 25-30 minutes.

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At the end take the chicken out of the oven and decorate it generously with chopped parsley. Serve it with mashed potatoes or on its own, with roast peppers from the pan.

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I am a big fan of roast peppers and I believe they are underrated. They bring a unique contribution to dishes, and their smoky-sweet flavor is fresh and energetic, but also delightfully comforting. In this dish, the peppers and the garlic are a marriage made in culinary heaven, and the chicken, while thoroughly transformed, retains its identity – an identity complemented by its two culinary companions.

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