Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chicken Tonight

It was a classic 70s Mom moment: I pored through my cookbooks asking myself, "what can I do with chicken tonight?" Of course, the 70s mom would have have worried about ground beef, but I had a 1-pound package of bone-in chicken breasts about a day past its expiration and due for a date with the freezer.

I prefer bone-in poultry because I love to braise - making a hearty pot of chicken and dumplings or chicken stew that can simmer in the oven for most of the day, the chicken releasing its juices into a savory broth. In the summer, however, I avoid these kind of kitchen-warming projects. But my husband found some chicken breasts on sale at the market and I needed a quick and easy supper idea. I guess most folks would coat the breasts in barbecue sauce and grill them, but given the stormy weather, an indoor recipe would need to be found. I checked through two favorite cookbooks, a cherished ring-bound Pillsbury Cookbook, missing its covers, but still holding its own as a home cooking go-to resource; and my favorite cookbook, Big Orange, the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, revised edition. My search this time yielded a Roast Chicken with Vegetables in ATK that used bone-in chicken breasts and required just one pan.

I cut up two carrots, six red potatoes and two onions, mixed them with a double glug of olive oil and a teaspoon of dried thyme (ATK test cooks are overly enamored with thyme, IMO; I will probably leave it out next time), spread them in a pan and baked them for 15 minutes in a hot, 450 degree oven. The chicken breasts were placed over the vegetables, brushed with a few tablespoons of melted butter (ATK is also big believer in doubling up on fats), and seasoned with salt and pepper. Both chicken and vegetables returned to the oven for about 30 minutes (this was convection, allow longer for conventional). When I opened the oven door, the aromatic chicken was a sight to behold - skin the color of aged cherrywood and juicy, tender flesh. The potatoes cooked in melted butter, olive oil and melted chicken fat were a guilty pleasure.

As always, the proof is in the leftovers - the kids gobbled up the chicken and veggies, so I have a just one plump breast left over for chopping up and making chicken salad. Rounding out the meal were steamed broccoli, wilted spinach cooked with bacon and bunches of champagne grapes for dessert.

Roasted Chicken Breasts with Root Vegetables
Steamed Broccoli
Wilted Spinach with Bacon
Champagne Grapes

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with the thoughts on ATK and thyme, just hadn't put it in words before. Perhaps they think it's more available than other herbs?

I posted before about the Gift of Southern Cooking recipe. I really enjoy your blog, perhaps because you like the same kind of food I do, but I'm disappointed when you don't include the recipe.