Tomatoes were everywhere at the market this week. Red, yellow, cherry, heirloom, green – it was hard to concentrate on anything else, especially knowing that tomatoes will be the first to disappear from the fall bounty. When I got home I realized I had bought only tomatoes.
The little cherry tomatoes from Keith’s Farm were very ripe and burst from the sun, and they immediately brought to mind a meal prepared by my friend Kate a few years ago: braised drumsticks with cherry tomatoes and lots of garlic. She made it in a large round earthenware dish she had just brought back from Morocco. It was stunningly beautiful and delicious. I’ve never asked Kate for the recipe but I have attempted to recreate it and make it quite regularly.
8 chicken thighs and drumsticks (or alternatively, only thighs or only drumsticks)
2 medium onions (red or yellow)
7 or 8 whole garlic cloves with skin
2 bay leaves
Fresh basil, marjoram, or oregano according to taste or availability
Preheat oven to 350°F (170°C)
Remove chicken legs and set aside.
Thinly slice onions and add to pan in which you just browned the chicken (with a little more olive oil if necessary). Season with salt and pepper, and cook until golden.
In a large ovenproof dish make a bed with the onions,* add bay leaves and herbs, then the pieces of chicken, which should fit snugly without overlapping. Season with salt and pepper. Poke the cherry tomatoes with a fork or tip of a knife so the juice can escape, and throw them with the garlic cloves over the chicken. Season again. Place in oven and let simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes. The meat should fall off the bone.
*To limit the number of pans used and if the skillet is ovenproof, leave the onions in the skillet, add the herbs, chicken, tomatoes, and garlic, and slide it in the oven.