Monday, January 24, 2011

Baked Chicken with Roasted Tomato Sauce

My husband loves the clean fresh flavor of simple tomato sauce that can stand alone and he is definitely going to love this sauce.

Oven roasted tomatoes simply flavored with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper is the “Mother Sauce”.  Once you make the sauce you can add other ingredients to wake it up.  But it is excellent in its most virgin form.

I wish I had made more because I couldn’t stop eating those sweet tomato bites.  They were wonderful just plain.  But I had bigger plans for those roasted tomatoes.  I was going to make a fresh tomato sauce and bake it with chicken.

I’m sure there is a beautiful Italian name for simple tomato sauce but I don’t know it. 

I have made many tomato sauces using canned and fresh tomatoes but I have never roasted them before.  When I make tomato sauce using canned tomatoes it usually has a slight tinny taste that needs to be adjusted with sugar or sometimes a grated carrot works, to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes.  There are amazing canned tomatoes known as San Marzanos.  But they too are not all created equal.  I have had good ones and bad ones.

When I make tomato sauce using all fresh tomatoes my sauce seems to be too watery if I don’t add tomato paste which kinda defeats my purpose of getting away from the can and making a fresh tomato sauce.

Tonight I found my fix. 

The simple step of roasting the fresh tomatoes in a hot oven gave the tomatoes a distinct natural sweetness without the use of sugar.  Then with the help of a food processor the sauce blended together and thickened up beautifully.

FRESH OVEN ROASTED TOMATOES
printable recipe

2 ½      pounds            grape tomatoes
3          large                cloves garlic
¼         cup                  olive oil
1          tsp.                  kosher salt
¼         tsp.                  black pepper

Place the tomatoes and garlic on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper.
Roast on the middle rack in a 450 degree oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until just caramelized.

FRESH TOMATO SAUCE
Place the roasted tomatoes along with the liquid in the pan into a blender or food processor and blend to puree.

You can use the sauce as is with a sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil or you could choose to wake up the sauce by adding other layers of flavor to make the sauce your own.  Simply by heating up a little olive oil in a sauté pan and adding a couple of pinches of red pepper flakes for heat, capers for zing, minced onion, garlic or red bell peppers before adding the sauce and bringing it all together.

ROASTED CHICKEN WITH FRESH TOMATO SAUCE
Place the chicken on a sheet pan and season with kosher salt and black pepper.  Roast in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes to crisp up the skin and remove some of the fat.
Place chicken pieces in a large casserole dish and scoop the sauce over the chicken pieces.  Place the chicken back in the oven and cook for another 15 minutes.
Top chicken with fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese.

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