When you're roasting food, air circulation is everything. That's why we prefer low-rimmed baking sheets over roasting pans. They accelerate cooking and boost browning in our weeknight traybakes.
But in some instances, a bit of crowding on the pan can be beneficial, such as in this spicy chicken alla diavolo from our book "Tuesday Nights Mediterranean," which features weeknight-friendly meals from the region. After tossing bone-in, skin-on chicken parts with ample red pepper flakes and thyme, we arrange the meat in a circle around eight whole, peeled garlic cloves.
The chicken roasts in a 475-degree oven until deeply browned, but the cloves in the center are protected from scorching in the high heat. Instead, they soften and sweeten -- perfect for mashing into a paste to mix with the chicken's juices for a savory sauce that is ready in just a minute. Mixing lemon zest and pepperoncini into the sauce gives it an extra kick.
Adding broccoli to the pan makes it a complete one-pan dinner that comes together in well under an hour. Just be careful not to cut the broccoli pieces too small. Keeping them in largish 3-inch pieces prevents them from overcooking. And use only the broccoli crowns, not the lower parts of the stems; the crowns don't require peeling and are quick and easy to prep.
Chicken alla diavola with broccoli
Start to finish: 45 minutes
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1¼ teaspoons red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Four 12-ounce bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts or 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 pounds broccoli crowns, cut into 3-inch florets
8 medium garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, plus lemon wedges to serve
½ cup chopped drained peperoncini
¼ cup lightly packed fresh oregano, chopped
Heat the oven to 475 degrees with a rack in the middle position. In a large bowl, stir together the thyme, pepper flakes and 2 teaspoons each salt and black pepper. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the mix onto all sides of the chicken. To the remaining seasoning mix in the bowl, add the ¼ cup oil and the broccoli, then toss to coat.
Place the garlic in the center of a rimmed baking sheet, then arrange the chicken, skin up, around the garlic; this placement helps prevent the garlic from scorching during roasting. Arrange the broccoli in an even layer around the chicken. Roast until the thickest part of the breasts (if using) reaches 160 degrees and the thickest part of the thighs (if using) reaches 175 degrees, about 30 minutes.
Using tongs, transfer the chicken and broccoli to a serving platter. Transfer the garlic to a medium bowl and, using a fork, mash to a rough paste. Carefully pour ¼ cup water onto the baking sheet and scrape up any browned bits. Pour the pan juices over the garlic and add the lemon zest and peperoncini, then whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken and broccoli, then sprinkle with oregano. Serve with lemon wedges.