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Playing 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 to 3 1/2 pounds), halved, backbone removed and split (ask your butcher to split for you)
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons EVOO - Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 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 to 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


Serves: 4 servings


Preheat oven to 400F.

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.