500 POSTS AND THE BEST THING I EVER MADE

Yes, folks, this is my post number 500! Five hundred times that I’ve hit the PUBLISH key, and sent my words and images into the blogosphere! I wanted this post to be special, but at the same time I had to go with life’s flow, which lately has not allowed me to indulge into fancy cooking. But one cannot go wrong with a recipe described as “The best thing I ever made”.  If you are familiar with the FoodTV, you may know they have a show with that exact title, and it’s actually pretty interesting: chefs describe their favorite recipe in a particular category. This was Alton Brown’s best take on chicken. Chicken thighs are de-boned, and roasted with an olive stuffing under the skin, and a smoked paprika rub. They cook over thin slices of Yukon gold potatoes. I could have those potatoes on a daily basis. For breakfast. For lunch. For dinner. For a late night snack. Oh, yes, the chicken was awesome too! ;-)

SMOKED PAPRIKA CHICKEN THIGHS WITH POTATO AND ONION
(from Alton Brown’s Best Thing I ever Made)

6 ounces pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, grated
3 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 + 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled
1 medium yellow onion, cut in small pieces

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the olives, lemon zest and garlic in a small bowl, and set aside. Mix the smoked paprika, olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and pepper into a paste in a large bowl.

De-bone the chicken thighs using a pair of kitchen shears:  make a cut down the length of the bone to expose it, then cut the meat away from the bone. Discard the bone. Add the boned chicken thighs to the paste and massage well to coat. Let it sit for half an hour or so.

Thinly slice the potatoes on a mandoline, about 1/4-inch thick. Arrange the potato slices and onion pieces in an even layer on a foil-lined half sheet pan and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt.

Stuff about 2 tablespoons of the olive mixture under the skin of each chicken thigh. Arrange the chicken thighs, skin-side up, on a cooling rack and set the rack over the potatoes and onion in the half sheet pan. Bake until the skin is crispy and the potatoes are tender, 55 to 60 minutes. If you prefer the potatoes crispy, remove the rack with the chicken and return to the oven for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments:  The only tricky part of this recipe was de-boning the chicken thighs,  but it’s not that hard.  I normally cook chicken thighs on the bone, but there’s something special about cutting through those pieces of meat, all juicy with the stuffing, without having to work around the bone.  It is a technique that could be applied to other types of stuffing.  The liquid that drips during roasting infuses the potatoes with incredibly rich flavor.

In typical Sally fashion,  onion and garlic were omitted, but I gave you the recipe the exact way Alton made it in the show.  I never thought very highly about pimento-stuffed olives, but they are simply perfect in this dish.  Alton Brown had a moment of inspiration when he conceived this recipe, everything works together extremely well.   Since it’s a reasonably heavy dish,  you won’t need anything else to round the meal.

Five hundred posts published and no special celebration?  Well, stay tuned, my friends.  A special milestone is waiting around the corner, and for that one I’ll have a little giveaway to my readers! ;-)

ONE YEAR AGO: Back in Los Angeles

TWO YEARS AGO: White House Macaroni and Cheese

THREE YEARS AGO: Korean-Style Pork with Asian Slaw

SLOW-ROASTED CHICKEN THIGHS: an ICE BREAKER

Ice storm. Two little words that I’ve come to respect (and fear) since the big one that hit us in December 2007. When the weather gurus forecast another this past week, we braced ourselves in preparation. Groceries, candles, firewood, cash… and indeed, it arrived. We’re now locked inside, with two happy dogs who don’t quite understand why they can stay in the house all day, snoozing in the comfort of their beds. At least, the 2010 version didn’t disrupt our power, so the fire in our fireplace is for pleasure, not necessity.

This weather calls for comfort food! For the first icy evening, I prepared a recipe from the latest Fine Cooking, described therein as “elegant enough for entertaining, but simple enough to make anytime.” It calls for a cut-up chicken, but I used packaged chicken thighs instead, which are so under-appreciated and inexpensive, but so full of flavor!

CHICKEN THIGHS WITH OLIVES AND LEMON
(adapted from Fine Cooking #103; recipe by Melissa Pellegrino)

6 chicken thighs, bone-in
2 medium lemons
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
3/4 cup jarred brined olives, rinsed, pitted, and halved
6 fresh sage leaves
2 dried bay leaves
1 tsp thyme (I used dry, could not find fresh)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350F.

Blot the chicken absolutely dry with a paper towel before you begin, then season it on all sides with salt and pepper.

Cut the ends off the lemon, stand it on one end, carefully peel it, and release the lemon segments from the membranes, dropping them in a small bowl. Cut the segments in two or three pieces.

Heat the butter and the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, cook the chicken skin side down until golden-brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a baking dish with the browned side up. Pour off all but 2 Tbs. of the fat. Add the shallots, olives, sage, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and lemon segments, and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the lemony sauce to the roasting pan; cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and increase the heat to 400F for 10 minutes to ensure the skin is crisp (alternatively, run the roasting pan under the broiler for a few minutes).

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The original recipe “pan-roasts” the chicken. That is, after browning the skin and sauteing the flavor ingredients, the chicken is returned to the pan and placed in a high temperature oven (450F) for 18-20 minutes, or until the meat reached 165F. I’ve cooked chicken this way before and was always disappointed by the results. The high heat toughens the meat, blocking the juicy texture that I enjoy, especially in the thighs. I adapted the recipe for slow-roasting, almost a braise, as covering the pan with foil created the perfect environment.


Pasta dressed with the lemony sauce from the slow-roasting was an excellent side for this dish, that made us forget the icy evening outside. This is a “Perfect Sunday Dinner“,  even if the only ice you want to melt is that of a first dinner at home with a special date.

Variations to try: we felt that mushrooms will nicely complement the dish, so next time I’m definitely adding some.  Reducing the amount of olives and substituting some capers could work too.