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In the age of the Instant Pot and sous vide machine, I have gone retro. I had a toaster
oven from the '70s, which I was using frequently to heat up leftovers. Although it still worked well, it was too small to use for any actual cooking.

 

With only two people to cook for, turning on my oven seemed like overkill for making a
batch of croutons or roasting a couple of potatoes. With summer coming on, the heat factor was also a consideration. 

Having a small kitchen, I thought long and hard before acquiring a new appliance to sit
on the counter. With more than a little trepidation, I ordered a 21st-century mini smart oven. I haven’t looked back since.

Even though the mini oven has a small footprint, it was more than large enough for my
needs. After making toast and some baked potatoes, I wanted to see if it really could replace my oven. Since it came with a 10-inch-square baking pan, I chose one of my favorite chicken recipes for a trial run.


Chicken Provençal is a roast chicken dish using bone-in chicken thighs. Wine, lemon 
and herbes de Provence give the dish solid French credentials. The thighs are roasted to produce a dish with a crispy skin and tender meat. Although boneless skinless chicken breasts are more popular, they dry out quickly when cooked in the oven. Thighs, on the other hand, remain juicy and succulent.


With a few minutes of preparation, my chicken Provençal was ready for the toaster oven. The four thighs fit perfectly in the pan. I set the temperature to 400 degrees and was pleasantly surprised when it preheated in three minutes. I set the timer and crossed my fingers.

An hour later, I had a perfectly cooked dish of chicken Provençal.

The recipe below serves 2-3, but it can easily be doubled and cooked on a sheet pan in a regular oven.


Chicken Provençal
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
About ½ cup flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
1 small lemon, quartered
5 cloves garlic, peeled
4 shallots, peeled and halved
½ cup dry vermouth (I like Martini & Rossi)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Salt and pepper the chicken and then dredge in flour, shaking off any loose flour. Pour the oil in a baking pan and swirl it around to cover the bottom of the pan. Place the chicken thighs in the pan skin side up and sprinkle with the herbes de Provence. Arrange the garlic cloves, shallots and lemon pieces around the chicken. Add the vermouth to the pan. Roast for 25 minutes and then baste with the pan juices. Roast 25 minutes more, or until the skin on the chicken is crisp and golden.

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