Chicken Fra Diavolo with Fennel, Onions and Potatoes and Warm Tomato and Roasted Garlic Sauce
- 16 cipollini onions or 4 medium onions, quartered lengthwise
- 2 small spring chickens (about 3-3 1/2 pounds), halved, backbone removed and split (ask your butcher to split for you)
- 5-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for liberal drizzling
- 3 tablespoons smoked sweet paprika
- 3 tablespoons grill seasoning, such as Montreal Seasoning by McCormick
- 3 tablespoons chili powder – the redder the chili powder you choose, the redder the “Devil”
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground fennel
- 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
- 2 bulbs fennel, trimmed of tops
- 1 1/2-2 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes, halved or left whole, depending on size
- 1 head garlic
- 2 pints grape tomatoes
- 1 handful basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 handful flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Pre-heat oven to 400ºF.
Place a medium-size pot filled with water over high heat and bring to a boil to blanch the cipollini onions. Blanching the onions for a minute will allow you to easily wipe away their skins with a kitchen towel. If your store does not carry cipollini onions, peel 4 small to medium onions and quarter them with root ends intact.
While the water is coming up to a boil, prepare the chicken spices: In a small mixing bowl, combine the smoked paprika, grill seasoning, chili powder, ground fennel and poultry seasoning. Drizzle the chicken halves with some EVOO, a couple of tablespoons total, and coat the chicken halves evenly with spice – they will be deep red in color.
Drop the cipollini onions in the boiling water for a minute, drain and peel. Trim the top and root ends with a sharp paring knife, and add them to a roasting pan.
Quarter each bulb of fennel lengthwise and cut the core out of each piece by cutting into it on an angle twice. Half each piece again (you want 8 wedges per bulb) and add them to the roasting pan. Combine the potatoes with fennel and onions, toss the vegetables with a couple tablespoons EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the chickens on top of the vegetables in the center of the pan – the red chickens will be surrounded by the white vegetables.
Cut the end off the head of garlic to expose the cloves and drizzle the garlic with a little oil. Wrap it in foil.
Transfer the chicken and the foil-wrapped garlic to the oven. Roast everything about 45-55 minutes, until chicken juices run clear.
When the chicken is about halfway done, coat the tomatoes with a tablespoon EVOO, season with salt and pepper, and add to oven to roast, about 20-25 minutes.
Remove the soft garlic cloves by squeezing them from their paper skins. Mash them in a bowl with a fork then add the roasted tomatoes, basil and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve the chicken halves with some fennel, onions and potatoes alongside, topped with a liberal mound of roasted garlic salsa.