June 11, 2020

Sheet Pan Chicken, Potatoes, and Leeks with Arugula, Yogurt Sauce, and Lemon

This is one of my favorite spring meals. I always love a truly all-in-one dinner where I don't need to think about separate side dishes. But this has so much more going for it than easy planning. It's such a lively celebration of flavors all at once-- just enough hot sauce in the marinade for flavor, not heat; lemon zest adds bright zing in the pan, as does fresh lemon juice squeezed on the whole thing just before eating; the chicken and potatoes are simple and satisfying and the arugula and yogurt round it out without being too filling.

My whole family loves this meal, even though my kids still aren't big leaf eaters in general. When they were younger and we had a dinner salad, I would serve it to them deconstructed, with piles of each component separate on their plates. It made it more approachable to them than a big scary mix of foods touching one another and they tended to eat better that way. This became a habit for me and an expectation of theirs. It certainly trained them to be able to see a new or less favored food on their plate without stress, and often be willing to try a bit of it. But as they've gotten older, I felt we needed to help them move on to the next frontier in adventurous eating: trying foods in mature combinations, or, as the meal was intended. Now, at five and almost-ten, I serve them their own dinner salad piled up in the grown-up way just like ours (except very light on the lettuce (or here, arugula) and made up mostly of the other components). I hope they'll begin to notice the deliciousness of the whole, complete thing-- how the lemon squeezed over the top improves it all, and how good a blob of garlicky yogurt is right on their coveted crispy bites of potato. They can pick things apart to eat the chicken separate from the potatoes and ask for extra yogurt on the side if they want to, but sometimes they don't and we can celebrate "combination bites"-- trying two or more things all together on your fork at once.

In any case, this is a meal for those of us who love tasty combination bites. You need to start it about an hour or more ahead just because of the cooking time, but preparation time is simple and pretty quick. This just barely serves four of us with rarely a little bit left over for some lucky person's lunch the next day.

Leeks and lemon zest-- I used to skip lemon zest in recipes but it brightens up flavors so much and is worth grating

Sheet Pan Chicken, Potatoes, and Leeks with Arugula, Yogurt Sauce, and Lemon 
adapted slightly from The New York Times 
serves 4

For Sheet Pan:
1 1/2 lbs. chicken, cut in 2-in. pieces
1 1/4 lbs. small Yukon Gold potatoes, halved and cut into 1/2-in. slices
2 t salt, or less
1/2 t ground pepper
2 T hot sauce, such as Cholula
1/2 t ground cumin
4 1/2 T olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 t lemon zest (from 1/2 a lemon)

For Yogurt Sauce:
2/3 C plain yogurt (not Greek)
2 small garlic cloves, minced or grated
s & p to taste

To Serve:
Lemon wedges for squeezing
Olive oil to drizzle

Combine chicken, potatoes, salt, pepper, hot sauce, cumin, and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes or for hours in refrigerator.

In medium bowl, combine leeks, lemon zest, pinch of salt, and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil.

Heat oven to 425. Arrange chicken and potato mixture on large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Roast 15 minutes. Then, toss lightly. Scatter leeks over the pan. Roast another 25 minutes, or until chicken and potatoes are cooked through and everything is golden and slightly crisped.

For yogurt sauce: combine garlic, yogurt, and salt and pepper to taste.

At the table, serve chicken and vegetables over a bed of arugula. Drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, and yogurt sauce.

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