Simone Miller cooks food that I crave: farm-to-table dishes that both satisfy on busy weeknights and impress at weekend dinner parties.
I first fell head over heels for Simone’s cooking at a Pop-up Paleo dinner a couple of years ago. Her spot-on flavor combinations and skillful execution were impressive—and the No Joke Dark Chocolate Cake she served for dessert instantly became my go-to indulgence. When we were planning our January cookbook launch party, the first and best decision we made was to hire Simone as our caterer. Even if the party had been a dud (thankfully, it wasn’t!), we knew her food would be a slam-dunk.
But until I can afford to have Simone cook all our meals, I guess I’ll have to settle for cooking my way through her fabulous new tome, The Zenbelly Cookbook. In it, Simone offers tantalizing recipes for everything from Maple-Bourbon Bacon Jam and Biscuits to Cocoa-Chili Pork Shoulder and Apple Cider Donut Holes. Her book’s one of my faves of the year, and—as you know—I’m something of a cookbook hoarder, so I know a good one when I see it.
Lately, I’ve found myself making one recipe in particular from The Zenbelly Cookbook over and over again. Simone’s Pan-Roasted Chicken with Bacon and Apples is dead simple, deliciously comforting, and the perfect weeknight autumn dinner.
Along with my Cracklin’ Chicken, this poultry dish is among my sons’ most-requested. I’ve altered Simone’s recipe just a smidge by using all chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken (mostly because that’s what I usually have in the freezer). Also, I like to reserve some of the crispy bacon bits to add at the very end. You can’t go wrong combining crispy chicken skin, juicy meat, sweet apples, and smoky bacon!
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 6 large bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or 1 whole chicken, cut up into 8 pieces
- 1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc, but if you’re on a Whole30 you can substitute bone broth and a splash of balsamic vinegar)
- 3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ pound bacon (5 to 6 thick strips)
- 1 cup sliced shallots (about 3 large)
- 1 apple, cored and sliced in ½-inch-thick half-moons (I use Fuji)
Heat the oven to 450°F with the rack in the middle position.
Season the chicken pieces on both sides with salt.
Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet or other oven-safe heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.
In the hot pan, sear the chicken pieces skin side down until nicely browned and crispy, about 4 to 5 minutes. While the skin is crisping, add freshly ground black pepper to the meaty side.
When the skin is crackling, flip the pieces over…
…and cook for 2 minutes more.
Pour in the wine…
…and add the thyme sprigs.
Transfer the pan to the hot oven and roast the chicken for 15 minutes.
While the chicken’s doing its thing in the oven, cross-cut the bacon into ¼-inch pieces.
Brown the bacon bits in a skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the bacon bits to a paper towel-lined plate…
…and pour off all but about a tablespoon of the bacon drippings. (SAVE YOUR BACON DRIPPINGS! IT’S LIQUID GOLD!)
Add the shallots and apple to the skillet…
…and sauté for another 4 to 5 minutes, or until the shallots are softened and the apples start to brown.
Turn off the heat, and stir in half of the crispy bacon bits.
After the chicken has cooked for 15 minutes, add the apple and bacon mixture to the pan with the chicken.
Do your best to nestle the bacon and apples between the chicken pieces rather than covering the skin.
Roast the chicken for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F. (Got a meat thermometer, right? Then use it!)
Sprinkle the remaining bacon bits on top of the chicken.
Time to ring the dinner bell!
Do the dishes, and then go get Simone Miller’s new cookbook, The Zenbelly Cookbook!
Looking for more recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index! You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my New York Times bestselling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel 2013).5