Is there anything more disappointing than an out of season tomato? Honestly, there is nothing that can compare to a sun warmed tomato, just plucked from the garden. With this season’s tomato plants enjoying their new home in our raised garden beds, I am longing for those red ripened varieties to use in as many ways as I possibly can. What to do until that time – well, there are canned San Marzano tomatoes for some dishes. But when you are longing for intense tomato power – why not oven roast?
Slow roasting tomatoes brings out a rich tomato flavor which compliments any dish. The process is simple, the single most difficult requirement is that one needs to be at home for several hours while the oven is on. The deep flavor of the roasted tomatoes especially compliments chicken; Patti di Pollo con Pomodori al Forno team these two ingredients perfectly.
The oven roasted tomatoes can be prepared a few days in advance and refrigerated until needed. A supply of oven roasted tomatoes can be used to prepare a sauce for pasta, enhance a couscous dish, or as an accompaniment for other roasted meats.
Boneless chicken breasts with their skin works well in this recipe. The skin adds a dimension of flavor that skinless breasts just can’t match; I mean really – chicken skin, come on it’s delicious! The robust flavor of the tomatoes paired with the roasted chicken juices are divine spooned over the sliced chicken breast.
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- 1 pound of on the vine small - medium sized tomatoes, sometimes called Campari tomatoes
- 5 cloves of peeled garlic, sliced in half
- 6 or 7 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Salt & Freshly ground black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 double chicken breast, about 1¼ pounds - boneless but with skin intact
- 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh thyme for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 275º F. Have a glass or ceramic baking dish large enough to accommodate the tomatoes cut in half in a single level at hand. Rub the bottom and sides of the baking dish with some of the olive oil.
- Wash and dry the tomatoes and slice them in half. Place the tomato halves in the baking dish, cut side up.
- Season the tomatoes generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Scatter the garlic halves into the baking dish. Take the thyme sprigs and break them apart over the tomatoes, distributing them fairly uniformly. Place the prepared tomatoes into the preheated oven for 1 hour. After the hour, check the tomatoes; they should begin to release some of their water and shrink slightly. Flip the tomatoes over and continue to oven roast at this temperature for an additional hour. The tomatoes should begin to become rather aromatic; filling the kitchen with the fragrance of the thyme and garlic. Once the tomatoes begin to lightly brown and gently bubble, remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool. When the tomatoes are cool, remove them and all of their juices to a jar or closed container, refrigerate.
- Several hours before cooking, season the double chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Take the thyme sprigs and insert under the skin as well as laying them on the flesh side of the breast. Refrigerate the seasoned chicken breasts until 1 hour before you are planning to prepare them. At that time remove the tomatoes from the refrigerator as well.
- Preheat the oven to 350º F.
- Take a cast iron skillet and heat it on the stove top over high heat until smoking, turn the heat to medium. Place the seasoned chicken breast in the skillet, skin side down for about 3- 5 minutes or until the skin becomes golden. Turn the breast over and cook the under side for an additional 3 minutes. Place the skillet into the preheated oven and roast for 10 minutes.
- Spoon the oven roasted tomatoes over and around the chicken breasts and continue to cook for an additional 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil, allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes.
- Place the chicken breasts onto cutting board and slice between the two breasts. Continue by slicing each of the breasts on a diagonal. Arrange the sliced chicken breasts on a platter, spooning the tomatoes and any juices that have accumulated in the pan over the chicken. The chicken can also be served over orzo or rice if you desire. Serve immediately.