by Victoria Jenanyan Wise
from The Armenian Table
(St. Martin’s Press, 2004)
Serves 4 to 6
I cooked a variation of this dish, made with duck rather than chicken and without the turnip greens, for the first-ever meal served at Berkeley ‘s world-famous Chez Panisse restaurant on August 28, 1971. I don’t know why I chose it for the opener, except its elements appealed to my French-cuisine style at the time, and also to my Armenian taste for turnips and olives.
Dinner was rather later than advertised — we were all novices in the restaurant business — and was not quite perfect that night. I have made the dish countless times since. Adding turnip greens is one of my favorite latter-day innovations.—Victoria Jenanyan Wise
12 baby turnips, with greens, or 3 regular turnips plus 1/2 bunch fresh turnip greens
3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken, quartered
1 small yellow or white onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 large tomato, cut into 1-inch wedges
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika, hot or mild
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup white wine
1 cup picholine or other mild green olives, not pitted
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
2. If using baby turnips, trim and scrub them, saving the greens. Cut the turnips in half and set aside. If using regular turnips, peel them and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch wedges. Set aside. Thinly shred the greens, wash and drain them, and set aside.
3. Place the chicken, onion, tomato, bay leaf, paprika, salt, pepper, and wine in an oven dish large enough to hold the ingredients in one crowded layer. Turn to coat, winding up with the chicken skin side up. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken over, and continue baking uncovered for 25 minutes, until the chicken is almost done.
4. Remove the cover and turn the chicken over again (skin side up again). Tuck the turnips and olives under the chicken and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, until the turnips are tender and the chicken is golden on top. Remove the bay leaf, stir in the turnip greens, and cook uncovered for 3 minutes more, until the greens wilt. Serve right away.
Recipe © 2004 Victoria Jenanyan Wise. All rights reserved.