Notes: Instead of braising the ingredients for chicken cacciatore, we roast them here to intensify their natural sweetness. Serve the meat and vegetables with hot cooked polenta.
Sunset FEBRUARY 2001
1. Remove giblets from chicken and reserve for other uses. Pull off and discard lumps of fat. Rinse bird well inside and out; pat dry. If desired, fold wing tips under first joint. Set bird breast up on a V-shaped rack in an 11- by 17-inch pan.
2. In a small bowl, mix chopped rosemary and basil. Starting at the neck, gently ease your fingers under skin to loosen it over breast. Push 1/3 of the rosemary-basil mixture under skin and spread evenly over breast. Place 6 garlic cloves and 3 rosemary sprigs in body cavity. Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt and pepper.
3. Rinse, stem, and seed red and yellow bell peppers; cut into 1/3-inch-wide strips. Peel onions and cut each into 6 wedges. Rinse and core tomatoes; cut in half lengthwise. Distribute peppers, onions, and remaining garlic around chicken in pan; spread level. Set tomatoes, cut side up, on pepper mixture and sprinkle vegetables with another 1/3 of the herb mixture, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; drizzle with olive oil.
4. Roast in a 425° regular or convection oven until vegetables begin to brown and a thermometer inserted through thickest part of breast to bone reaches 170°, or 180° through thickest part of thigh at joint, 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours.
5. Insert a carving fork into chicken cavity, piercing carcass. Lift bird and tilt to drain juices into pan. Set chicken on a rimmed platter; let rest in a warm place about 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a shallow bowl; sprinkle with olives and keep warm.
6. Skim and discard fat from pan; add vinegar, wine, broth, and remaining herb mixture. Stir often over high heat, scraping browned bits free, until reduced to 3/4 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Pour through a fine strainer into a small pitcher or bowl.
7. Garnish platter with remaining rosemary sprigs. Carve chicken and serve with vegetables. Add pan juices and salt and pepper to taste.
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