Roasted Chicken and Tomatoes with Cheese Grits

<img alt="Roasted Chicken and Tomatoes with Cheese Grits"/>

Mark Twain is believed to have said that the coldest winter he “ever saw” was the summer he spent in San Francisco.   Having been to San Francisco many, many times in my life, and a city I’d happily relocate to if given the opportunity, I’d have to agree with whomever said that.  But I’d also mention that San Diego in the Spring can be equally as chilly.

A quick trip down the hill to hit the Farmer’s Market in Pacific Beach last Saturday featured glimpses of young college men traveling in small packs and garbed in brightly colored checked Bermudas, their luggage bumping along the sidewalks behind them.  Clearly, Spring Break was getting its start.  The weather was pleasant enough, but not as spectacular as it would become a few days later.

A week has gone by and with it the sunshine.  The sky is cast in solid grey and the forecast suggests that it will continue throughout this weekend.  I always find myself feeling sorry for the Spring Break vacationers when they arrive expecting endless days of warmth and sun.  I know I’d be disappointed.

It’s perfect weather for something roasted and savory that doesn’t take lots of effort — like this recipe for Roasted Chicken and Tomatoes with Cheese Grits.  It has comfort written all over it.  And if you can find a chicken on sale, then it’s inexpensive, too.  The flavors are bright and satisfying, even if the weather isn’t.

Must be the tomatoes.  But then, there are the grits to consider.

With cheese.  Oh. My.

<img alt="Roasted Tomatoes"/>

Roasted Chicken and Tomatoes with Cheese Grits

Tomato Ingredients

16 oz. grape tomatoes

several sprigs of fresh rosemary

a few glugs of extra virgin olive oil

liberal sprinkles of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Spread the tomatoes and rosemary on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season.
  2. Place in a preheated 350 degree F oven and roast for about 1 hour.  Remove and let cool.

Chicken Ingredients

1- 4 lb. whole chicken

1 lg. white onion, peeled and quartered

extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper

4 oz. dry white wine


  1. After the tomatoes are out of the oven, rub the chicken well with the olive oil, then season.  Spread the onion quarters in the pan.  Roast at 350 degrees F for about 1- to 1-1/2 hours.
  2. Pour the wine into the baking pan and increase the oven temperature to 45o degrees F.  Roast the chicken for an additional 20 minutes or until well browned with clear juices running from the cavity.
  3. Pour remaining cavity juices into the baking pan and remove the chicken to a platter to tent with foil.  Add half the roasted tomatoes to the pan with their juice and 1/2 cup of water.
  4. Heat over a medium high flame until it begins to simmer.  Stir to loosen any browned bits that may be attached to the baking pan, and reduce by about 1/3.  Strain if desired and correct seasonings.

Cheese Grits Ingredients

1-1/2 c. stone ground cornmeal


5-1/2 c. water

2 T unsalted butter

1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan


  1. Bring the water to a boil and add a healthy pinch of salt.  Slowly pour in the cornmeal while stirring to prevent clumping.
  2. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook, stirring often, until the mixture is thick and “al dente” about 20 minutes.
  3.  Stir in the butter and cheese.  Check for seasoning.


Recipe Notes

  • This is a recipe I tagged in Food & Wine earlier this year and it can’t get much easier than this.  Definitely no recipe needed, actually, since all you’re doing is rubbing and seasoning.  I had to fight off my urge to include garlic but this recipe was just fine without the garlic.  Or lemon.  Or all the other herbs and flavors I’ve roasted chicken with.  Refreshingly simple.
  • No matter how you roast your tomatoes, roast them.  I love these amazing things with just about everything I’ve tried them with — especially on a piece of crusty bread.  The juice is absolutely wonderful.  Try them with sauteed green beans.
  • I confess I didn’t have any grits.  I know.  But you know what?  The cornmeal worked just fine.  No, it wasn’t grits, but it was buttery, cheesy, and perfect with the chicken and tomatoes.  Really a satisfying meal that was almost no effort to make for the flavor.
  • Overall a very flavorful meal for not much work.