Roast Chicken with Caramelized Shallots

caramelized shallot chicken

I’m always surprised when people say that they don’t have time to cook. I mean, aside from reproducing, physiologically, we don’t really exist on this earth for any other reason. (Unless someone knows something that they’re not telling me.) Feeding ourselves is really our most basic human need.

Now if someone said, “I don’t have time to clean up afterward”, then I can totally relate. I spend at least 40% of my life standing in front of a sink, washing dishes. When people ask if they can come and help me test recipes, I always say, “Bring rubber gloves!” And that’s the last I hear from them.

caramelized shallot chicken

This is one of my very favorite go-to dinners. It’s incredibly easy and there are hardly any dishes to wash; just toss chicken pieces in olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and shallots in a baking dish. Season with salt and pepper, and pop it in the oven.


During that time, the shallots get crispy-sweet and caramelized, and since it only takes about 45 minutes to bake, you have time to mix yourself a Sidecar.

This recipe is adapted from French Farmhouse Cookbook, by Susan Loomis, a friend who teaches cooking classes in France and designs dinners online at notakeout.com. If you buy the chicken cut up, it’s super-simple, and the only work really is mincing four shallots. Luckily here in France, there’s lots of volaillers at the markets that will cut up a chicken for you in no time, and it’s included in the price, service compris.

And if you go to the volailler, always, always listen to them. I once was planning on making coq au vin and saw a large rooster in the display case, about the size of a basketball, and told him I wanted it.

L’entier?” he asked. And of course, I said “Oui, Monsieur“, I wanted the whole thing. Thankfully he talked me into only buying half of it, because when I got home and unwrapped the parcel, there must’ve been about forty eight pieces of chicken in there.

(When I moved here, if shopping for a dinner party, I’d shop “American style” and figure one-half chicken per person. That changed pretty quickly when I realized the French are happy to dine on a chicken leg or wing, which they also have the uncanny ability to scrape off every last morsel of meat with surgical precision.)

caramelized shallot chicken caramelized shallot chicken

To the recipe, I added a bit of soy sauce, which is one of the secret ingredients in many dishes, even in French cooking. At a restaurant in Lyon that was widely renown for their ‘secret’ salad dressing, I ate there with a chef friend. And the first thing he said after he tasted it?—Soy sauce.

So I added a bit to the sauce, which gives this dish a savory-salty umami taste—which in French, I believe, is called je ne sais quoi.

Feel free to change around what vinegar to use. Balsamic would not be sharp enough, and too sweet, but apple cider vinegar would likely be nice, as would be sherry vinegar, which is my vinegar of choice for vinaigrette. But you can do whatever you want. After all, you’re the one eating it.

Aside from its utter simplicity, the other great thing about this dish is that aside from the chicken, you can make it from ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. And if you don’t keep shallots around, you should. Because once you taste it, you’ll want to be able to make this at a moment’s notice, as I often do.

Roast Chicken with Caramelized Shallots
Serves 4 to 6

Adapted from French Farmhouse Cookbook (Workman) by Susan Herrmann Loomis

I use a whole chicken cut into eight pieces; two legs, two thighs, and I cut each breast piece in half, crosswise, keeping the wings attached. You could also just use eight of your favorite chicken pieces.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 4 large shallots, peeled and minced
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • One whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • one generous handful of coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC).

2. In a large baking dish, one which will hold all the chicken pieces in a single layer, mix the olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, shallots, and some salt and pepper.

3. Toss the chicken in the mixture, so they’re completely coated with the shallots. Turn the chicken pieces so they are all skin side up.

4. Roast the chicken for about twenty minutes, until it starts to brown on top. Turn the pieces of chicken over. Scrape any juices and shallots over the chicken that may be clinging to the pan, and bake for another twenty minutes, or until the pieces of chicken are cooked through and the shallots are well-caramelized.

5. Remove from oven and toss in the chopped parsley, then serve.

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