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the 6 o'clock challenge

Lucy Waverman’s skillet roast chicken with veggies recipe is a satisfying one-pot meal that requires little pre-planning.Danielle Matar/The Globe and Mail

There's nothing worse than having the pride of serving up a full meal, complete with protein and veggies, ruined by the thought of the cleanup that lies ahead. What I want most evenings is a meal I can prep ahead of time that cooks without fiddling with it every 10 minutes and doesn't saddle me with a sinkful of to-dos at the end of the night.

The challenge I put to my mom this week was to create a truly satisfying one-pot meal that can be ready quickly – I offered her bonus points for one that's suitable for last-minute entertaining.

Lucy's answer was a skillet roast chicken with veggies. Many of us turn to the slow cooker for a one-pot meal, but here is a dish that doesn't need to be planned eight hours ahead and produces the kind of crispy chicken that no slow cooker can match.

This recipe is also extremely flexible. You can use all chicken breasts (stick to those with the skin still on, though), all legs or a whole butterflied chicken for this dish. Serve it with a baguette for a one-pot wonder. If you don't have a frying pan that can go in the oven, the recipe can be made in any oven-proof dish; if you've got one that is dishwasher-friendly, then you are really ahead of the game.

This is a basic French recipe but it's easy to change up so it can enter a weekly rotation. Emma's family is fond of a version with Mexican spices, served with tortillas and with salsa subbed in for chopped tomatoes. Another twist is to use Indian spices, adding coconut milk to the broth.

If time is tight, chop the veggies ahead of time and skip the step where you brown the chicken (the skin won't be as crispy, though). If you don't have the vegetables listed in the recipe or want to use up something that is getting soft in the veggie drawer, add what you like (Emma dislikes peppers and prefers cubed sweet potatoes, cauliflower or butternut squash).

For more greens, stir in three cups of sliced baby spinach when you take the dish out of the oven. Adding olives or frozen peas at the end gives the dish even more colour. Serve in the pan, dip the baguette in the sauce, wash the skillet and start wondering what's for dinner tomorrow.

Servings: 4


2 tsp dried rosemary

2 tsp dried tarragon

2 bone-in chicken breasts 10-12 oz/350-375 g each)

2 bone-in chicken legs and thighs (8-10 oz/275-350 g each)

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tbsp olive oil


2 cups thickly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only, or red onion

1 cup diced red pepper

1 3/4 cups torn mushrooms (about 4 oz, 125 g)

4 tsp sliced garlic

1/2 tsp dried chili flakes, optional if not kid-friendly

1 tbsp grated lemon rind

1 tbsp grated orange rind

1 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned

1/2 cup chicken stock

Garnish (optional)

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1/4 cup microgreens


Preheat oven to 425 F.

Combine rosemary and tarragon. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust with half of the herbs. Reserve the remainder.

Heat the oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken skin side down and sear for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the skin is golden. Turn over and sear the bone side – another 2 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the leeks, peppers, mushrooms and garlic cloves. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until beginning to soften. Sprinkle in the chilies, remaining herbs and rinds. Stir in the tomatoes and stock. Bring to a boil. Return the chicken on top of the veggies and place in the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the sauce is thickened and the chicken juices are clear. Serve the chicken with the vegetables. Garnish with parsley and microgreens if desired.

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