Quick Thyme Chicken

I adore casseroles. Alas! Captain Pickypants, my constant dining companion, works hard to avoid cheese, other dairy products, and pasta. The casseroles I crave are mainly amalgams of cheese, other dairy products, and pasta.

So it goes.

At the doctor’s office, unable to bring myself to actually rip the recipe out of the magazine (or outright steal the magazine), I copied this wonderful recipe onto the back of an agenda from a meeting I’d attended earlier in the day. The recipe was the most useful thing about the agenda or the meeting.

I’m not afraid to slice, dice, or julienne, but will admit that the reason I love this recipe (other than taste) is that it took me longer to clean up the counter so I could take photos than it did to actually prepare the dish for the oven. And if you look closely at the grout work, although I hope you don’t, you’ll understand that I mean this goes quickly, because I obviously didn’t exactly scrub everything down. It was, in truth, more of a swipe.

Ecce Pyrex! Behold, the humble vessel:

Fear not—that large crack is the joint of the two tiles beneath. The noble container of chicken goodness has not been compromised.

The ingredients, stunning in their simplicity:

Minus, you might notice, the chicken. By the way, a 2nd can of olives is propping up the herbs.

You wash the tomatoes and thyme, drain the olives, dump them in the Pyrex, pour on a biggish gurgle of olive oil (gurgle = approximately 3-4 TBS), and mix. I rub the thyme sprigs to knock off some leaves, then bend them a bit to release more taste, but I suppose you could meticulously strip and chop them if you wanted to find a way to complicate things.

I usually use better olives. By better, I mean more expensive and cured in oil. If you use pitted kalamatas, or any pitted black olives cured in oil, you can cut your gurgle of olive oil down by half. In a pinch, cheap canned olives will do. I bet good green olives would be tasty as well.

Anyway, mix it all together, gurgle on the oil, and stir. You’ll get something like this:

Next, chicken. You can really use anything. A mix of thighs and legs works well, because the legs can be nestled in after the thighs to take up the open spaces. Skin on, skin off, bone in, whatever works. I’m using 6 skin-full thighs here because there was no mixed pack and I knew I wouldn’t have room for all 10 drumsticks that were packaged together. Once you add chicken and re-arrange the olives and tomatoes around it, you’ll get:

No salt? No pepper? Well, that’s just me. You are free to add it as you see fit. Use whatever spices you fancy, in fact.

Bake in an oven pre-heated to 425 degrees for about 40 minutes or so until the chicken is done. The chicken is done when you stick a sharp knife in the thickest part of the biggest piece and the juices run clear. Seriously, it will be really easy and obvious.

You could serve this over rice, if you wanted, or with some fresh spinach or other greens, but I go for simplicity. This lasts as long as you can make it last, but you have to plan carefully to get the right tomato and olive ratio for the number of chicken pieces you have. Or not.

Captain Pickypants has lodged a protest over my mischaracterization of his eating habits as picky rather than healthy. Fair enough.

He also pointed out that I left out his favorite ingredient, garlic cloves. Well, I sure did! You can make this even better, although you will increase the prep time by a few minutes, by peeling a whole head of garlic and tossing the cloves into the mix.

Captain Pickypants has also lodged a complaint over the moniker Captain Pickypants. While he would prefer a simple husband, he suggested that Captain Particularpants might be acceptable.

Captain Pickypants it is!

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