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Food for cooler weather


Going bonkers over bistros, a term used to describe full-flavored family cooking, is a major trend in the restaurant business.

Patricia Wells, author of "Bistro Cooking," a book with 200 recipes inspired by the small family restaurants of France, says that real bistros serve earthy, soul-satisfying neighborhood fare.

This recipe epitomizes the lusty, homey bistro foods that are especially welcome during cooler months.

Roast Chicken with Tomato-Olive Sauce

1 (3 1/2 -pound) roasting chicken

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/8 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 pounds ripe tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed

1/4 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup green olives, pitted

1/2 cup black olives, pitted

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Remove the giblets from the chicken; rinse the chicken and pat dry. Put the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan and brush with some of the butter. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in a preheated 400-degree oven for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees in the thigh on an instant-read thermometer. Baste the chicken occasionally with the butter.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the tomatoes and time one minute. Drain; peel, seed and coarsely chop the tomatoes.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; saute five minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, basil, fennel seeds, wine, green and black olives. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Season the sauce with lots of pepper. (Additional salt may not be necessary because of the saltiness of the olives.) Stir in the parsley.

Carve the chicken and serve with a bowl of sauce on the side.

Makes five servings.

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