This sheet pan supper of chicken, roasted potatoes, and leeks is a total babe of a meal. And like a true babe, it's not all about looks. It's about personality too. Specifically, the low maintenance variety that just wants you to relax, baby girl - take it easy tonight, and let me take care of all the work. That is to say, pulling this dish together is a breeze, so you can focus on the more important task of keeping your wine glass full - a crisp white maybe? There is almost 0% fuss involved (I say almost because washing leeks twice isn’t nothing), and the finished product is so much greater than the sum of its parts that you may actually have to remind yourself how little work it actually entailed.
I had both heard and read about this recipe many times in passing before I finally discovered it myself while watching Melissa Clark’s videos on the NY Times cooking channel; something I’ve only recently caught onto because I am a broken record of unfashionable lateness. But as always, my lateness has no bearing whatsoever on the immense pleasure bestowed upon me once I have seen the light, nor the excitement with which I will extol the virtues of my newfound favorite thing to anyone who is foolish enough to strike up a conversation with me at a social gathering. The virtues abound with this one.
First things first, it requires minimal dirtying of dishes, which, in my universe where dishes and laundry are a love language, is downright sexy. The chicken and potatoes can be tossed with the marinade right on the sheet pan. Aside from that, all you’ll need is a bowl for the leeks and a small ramekin (or coffee cup) for mixing the yogurt sauce. [Note: I used an additional bowl in the photo above. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ The important thing is that I didn’t have to.]
The marinade is a dead simple mix of olive oil, cumin, and hot sauce, and while we liked the chili garlic sauce the best by far, any hot sauce will do in a pinch. The yogurt sauce, which I made with sour cream both times because it was what I had around, is equally adaptable. Stir in some lemon juice or zest (we did), toss in some chopped fresh herbs if you like (we didn’t), or even swirl in a little of the hot sauce you used for the marinade (we will next time). Whatever you do, just don’t skip the grated garlic (we would never). Roasting everything at a high heat ensures that there will be plenty of good looking crispy edges on the potatoes and leeks (mon couer!), even as they get soft and lush from soaking up the sauce of chicken juices mingled with marinade. The salad on top, sprinkled with lemon juice, adds a refreshing zing that cuts through the richness. Rich and luxurious, sharp-dressed and well-rounded equals total babe status.
Note: Let’s talk quickly about serving size. The first time I made this recipe I used two chicken thighs and one large chicken breast, totaling 1.25 lbs (see photo above). That turned out to be five full servings of chicken for me and my main squeeze. However, those five portions might otherwise be considered small, because we both generally prefer less meat in proportion to the other things on our plate (potatoes, leeks, and salad in this case). The second time I made it I had intended to use four chicken thighs, but my butcher was out of thighs so I ended up using two large breasts, totaling almost 2 lbs (top and bottom photos). While this yielded a ton of leftover chicken (can you guess who had chicken salad for lunch this week?), it might have worked well for folks who prefer a larger serving of meat. All this to say, if you prefer your servings of meat to be on the smaller side, then I recommend using thighs here. Plus thighs have that nice layer of skin that roasts up so crispy, and you know how I feel about that. Happy cooking - I hope this meal treats you so right!
Sheet Pan Chicken with Leeks and Potatoes, adapted from Melissa Clark for the NY Times
1 - 2 pounds chicken breast and/or thighs
1 ¼ pounds small round or fingerling potatoes
2 leeks, white and light green parts only
1/2 cup sour cream (original uses plain yogurt, but not greek)
1 small garlic clove
1 lemon, zest and juice
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons garlic chili sauce or sriracha (original uses harissa)
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
½ teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
2 handfuls of salad greens*
fresh herbs for garnish if you have them
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil + light drizzle
*The original calls for arugula, but my grocery store was out of arugula both times I shopped for these ingredients (hmm, I’m sensing a theme here, Duboce Triangle Whole Foods). I used mixed greens for the first preparation, and then mâche rosettes for the second, mainly because they’re so damn cute. The mixed greens tasted average as far as greens go, and the mâche rosettes were really nutty, which was cool, but I’m eager to try it with arugula, and will make a point to acquire some next time. I think the sharp peppery element they bring would be deliciously on point here.
Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Halve the leeks lengthwise, slice thinly, and place in a bowl filled with water. Dunk and swish the chopped leeks, then let them rest so that any dirt will sink to the bottom of the bowl.
Wash the potatoes, pat them dry with a clean towel, and chop them into halves or quarters so that they are each about a square inch, give or take. Put the chopped potatoes onto the sheet pan.
Return to the leeks, and rinse a second time. Remove the clean leeks to a clean towel spread out on the counter to dry for a minute. Quickly rinse the bowl to remove any grit that sank to the bottom, and place the leeks back in. Grate the zest of at least half the lemon (more if you like) over the top. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt, toss to combine
Place the chicken on a sheet pan with the potatoes and season everything well with salt and pepper, toss and season again. Whisk chili sauce, cumin, and 3 tablespoons oil in a small bowl. Pour marinade over the chicken and potatoes and toss to coat evenly. Let the chicken and potatoes rest and marinate for at least 20 minutes at room temperature, or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.
Put the sheet pan of chicken and potatoes in the oven to roast for 15 minutes. Remove from oven after 15 minutes and toss potatoes lightly. Scatter the leeks over the pan. Roast for 25 (or longer, checking in 5 minute increments) until the chicken and potatoes are cooked through and the leeks have crispy edges.
While the sheet pan continues to roast in the oven, place the sour cream or yogurt in a small bowl, grate garlic over the top and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add the fresh herbs, lemon juice or zest if you’re using them.
Remove the sheet pan from the oven, scatter the salad greens over the potatoes and leeks, and dollop on the sour cream. Drizzle with more oil and lemon juice, if desired, and serve.