Chicken Thighs with Savoy Cabbage and Turnips

If you ever see gorgeous crinkly savoy cabbage and you don't know what to do with it, grab one or two heads and remember this easy, delicious one-pan dinner.

The cabbage, which you cut into quarters and toss with olive oil spiked with shiitake powder and soy sauce for a super-umami blast, gets wonderfully caramelized, as do the turnips, which become soft and savory. Unless you use a non-stick roasting pan, you'll probably get a lot of browned bits stuck to the pan, which could be a downside when it's time to clean the pan. But there's an upside to the downside: If you use a regular pan and want to avoid a difficult clean-up, deglaze the pan with white wine or water for a quick pan sauce before serving. Either way, sauce or no, stick or nonstick, the dish is a winner. Yep, chicken dinner!

To make the shiitake powder this recipe calls for, buy a pack of dried, sliced shiitake mushrooms (usually sold in 1-ounce packages), place the mushrooms in a spice grinder, mini-chop or food process and grind them to a fine powder. It keeps, stored in an airtight container or zipper bag, indefinitely.

If you do make a little pan sauce, strain it into a pitcher and pass it around the table. But I promise it is every bit as good without it.

Serves 4.

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds turnips

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed slightly

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon shiitake powder (see headnote)

1 teaspoon soy sauce

About 1 1/2 pounds savoy cabbage (1 large head or 2 small ones), quartered and cored (remove any very tough outer leaves and save them for another purpose, like soup)

3/4 cup white wine (optional, for pan sauce)

Instructions

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Peel the turnips and, unless they're baby turnips, a.k.a. Tokyo turnips (which you'll want to leave whole), cut them into large chunks – about eight pieces each for large ones, six for mediums, and halved for small (but not baby) ones. Place them in a large bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper and toss them well to coat. Spread them in the roasting pan (don't wash the bowl – you're about to use it again) and roast for 15 minutes.

2. In the same bowl, add the chicken thighs and toss to coat with the small amount of olive oil still in the bowl. Add about half the fennel seed, the chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon of the shiitake powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grindings of black pepper and toss again to coat. 

3. After the turnips have roasted 15 minutes, pull the pan from the oven, move the turnips to the edges of the pan, place the chicken thighs skin-down on the hot pan and return it to the oven for 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in another large bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the rest of the fennel seed, the shiitake powder and the soy sauce. Add the cabbage quarters and use your hands to toss them, coating them with the olive oil mixture. The cabbage quarters will start to fall apart, but that's fine – make sure the leaves get coated. When the chicken has done its 15 minutes, pull the pan from the oven and add the Savoy cabbage. If there is any olive-oil-spice paste left in the bowl, scrape that in, too. Use wooden spoons to toss the cabbage, chicken and turnips together, then use tongs to arrange the chicken thighs skin-up. Don't worry if some of the thighs are on top of cabbage or turnips – that's fine. Sprinkle a little salt and grind some black pepper onto the chicken, then return to the oven for another 35 minutes.

5. Transfer the chicken, savoy cabbage and turnips to a warm serving platter. Serve immediately if you like, or keep in a warm spot while you make a quick pan sauce: Set the roasting pan over two burners on the stove, set the heat to high. Pour in the white wine or 3/4 cup water, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the browned bits from the roasting pan. Cook and scrape for about 4 to 5 minutes total, then strain the jus into a pitcher and pass with the chicken and vegetables.