Top Chef's Carla Hall cooks up dinner for $15

Carla HallTop Chef finalist Carla Hall thinks the simplest dishes can give us the greatest pleasure. Here is the Washington D.C.-based caterer's take on a roasted chicken with tomato-olive relish and roasted potatoes. Not only is the recipe easy, it clocks in at about $15.

Butterflied Chicken
  • 4-pound chicken
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 small onion, quartered

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Combine parsley, butter and 1 teaspoon of salt.
3. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Butterfly the chicken by placing chicken breast side down, and using kitchen shears, remove the backbone by cutting on either side of it. (Save and roast the backbone for soup or stock.) Turn the chicken over, breast side up, and press down on the center of the breast to flatten the chicken, breaking the breastbone.
4. Loosen the skin from the breast by placing index and middle fingers under the skin. Be careful not to tear the skin. Gently rub the butter mixture under the skin.
5. Generously salt and pepper the chicken on both sides.
6. Heat a large oven-proof skillet to medium high heat. Place chicken, breast side down, in pan. Sear for 3 minutes or until the chicken has browned nicely. Turn chicken over and sear that side for another 3 minutes. Place lemon halves and onion quarters under the chicken. Finish cooking chicken in the oven, about 30 to 40 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
7. Remove chicken from pan and set aside on a plate. Reserve pan juices to pour at table.

Tomato Olive Relish
I love using grape tomatoes, which are full of flavor and as firm as, well, grapes. In the summer, you can substitute plum and/or heirloom tomatoes with good results. However, in the winter, when you want something fast and inexpensive, canned tomatoes will do just as fine. This relish is great on grilled steaks, seared tofu, roasted chicken, grilled tuna and other firm grilled fish steaks.

  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 anchovy filets, diced and mashed into a paste
  • 6 black or green olives, slivered
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and black pepper
1. Place the garlic in a small skillet, preferably stainless or cast iron, on medium heat. No oil is necessary. This is a "dry" roast. Turn the garlic occasionally, allowing it to brown slightly and soften. Set aside. (Roast garlic keeps well so make enough for a week.)
2. Using the same skillet, pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil in and saute the diced red onion until translucent. Season with a sprinkling of salt. Mash the roasted garlic and toss into the skillet. Stir in the tomatoes, juice and all, and the remaining olive oil. Cook on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Add the chopped parsley, mashed anchovy filets, olives and balsamic vinegar. Toss to combine. Season with fresh black pepper. Let sit for an hour before using to allow the flavors to combine. Add salt, if necessary.

Roasted Potatoes
4 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss cut potatoes in olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Spread out in a single layer on a sheet or roasting pan. Cook until crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
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