Thursday, January 14, 2010

Winter Only Chicken

So I started off thinking I would blog about this chicken I was making. Then I kinda took the chicken a little too far in the pan and decided it wouldn't blog about my burnt chicken. But it ended up not too burnt and Gabe liked it so much he insisted I write it up.

I often cook without a recipe making use of whatever I have in the fridge. I always try to use up leftovers and make them into something different than its original incarnation. In this instance, I used some leftover roasted butternut squash. It's a nice way to thicken and sweeten the sauce without adding sugar or flour, bonus. I wrote in the recipe with fresh, uncooked butternut squash which I'm sure will work just as well.

It took me a long time to think of an acceptable name for this recipe. Chicken w/ Butternut Squash Sauce? Gross. Chicken Butternut Couscous - Gabe's idea..vetoed. Hot Chicken Mess? Oy. This is a pretty hearty dish so I can't imagine eating this in the summertime. Winter Chicken. Winter Only Chicken. Voila.

Winter Only Chicken

2 lbs. chicken
2 carrots
1/2 large onion
1.5 c. butternut squash, cubed
4 cloves garlic
1 c. dry white wine
2 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. chopped Italian parsley
1 tsp. fresh thyme (or use 1/4 tsp. dried)

I left the skin on but I think it would be just as good with the skin taken off since you're using dark meat. If you want to use chicken breast, please please please leave the bone in and skin on. Otherwise I predict you'll end up with hockey pucks instead of chicken breasts.

Drizzle oil on chicken and season with salt and pepper. In a large dutch oven or heavy stainless pot on medium high heat, drizzle in 2 tbsp light oil. When the surface is hot (oil will ripple), brown the chicken for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

When I flipped these over (definitely left them longer than 3 minutes, and I'm still getting used to these All-Clad pans) one was just a little too charred for my liking. At this point, I was like, "Ooh no. No burnt chicken on MY blog."

I was channeling these two when I heard myself say that in my head. Remember the "Men on Film" skits on In Living Color?

So I stopped taking pictures after that. Sorry. Just use your imagination.

Meanwhile, slice onion into 1/2" slices - half moons.

Peel carrots and slice into 1/2" slices on the diagonal.

Peel garlic but leave in whole clove form. After the chicken is browned, remove from the pan. Throw the onions into the hot pan which should still have some oil and all the yummy brown bits from the chicken. Stir and break up the onions, add salt & pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes until the onions soften. The heat should still be about medium to medium high.

Just watch the onions, the bottom of the pan should be browned but not burnt. If it looks like it's getting too hot, just turn the heat down a little or deglaze with about 1/2 cup of water and keep cooking the onions until soft.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine and make sure to scrape up all the bits on the bottom of the pan. Add garlic, squash and carrots and make sure everyone is coated with the white wine sauce. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Add the chicken back on top of everything and sprinkle with thyme (I ran out of fresh, 1/4 tsp dried is fine) put the lid on. Let it simmer for 20 minutes. After about 15 minutes, I was really surprised when I went to stir the sauce and the squash mushed (of course, what else does braised squash do?). But it turned the whole thing into this creamy, thick luscious sauce which had absolutely no cream whatsoever.

I wish I had a recording of the guttural noise that came out of Gabe's mouth when he took his first bite. It was the cross between a bear coming out of hibernation and a groggy sailor waking up from a hangover. I took it as a compliment.

Don't forget to toss in that Italian parsley - it's definitely needed to brighten up the chicken and cut the rich (tasting) sauce. I left the sauce pretty thick, at the end of cooking if you want a loose sauce, just add in more chicken stock or water and bring to a boil.

I used Cranberry Almond Couscous as a bed for this dish but you can definitely use pasta, rice or even mashed taters.

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