Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sauced, with Cranberries

The other night, after a mere couple of ciders, I got home a bit later than planned.  It was 7:15, and I really wanted a proper dinner on the table before eight.  Otherwise, we'd wind up staying up too late, perhaps watch the Yankees, then go to bed feeling suicidal because the bastards won again.
Purchased that evening, previous to imbibing cider: can whole-berry cranberry sauce, six bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, cat food
On hand: spices , shallots, seasoning pepper (also known as aji or dulce), red wine, stock, noodles, cream, milk, butter, parsley

First step (3 minutes, tops, if you know where everything is):  Heat.  Seems obvious, but how often have you chopped onions or garlic, toted them to the stove, and been given a gloomy stare by an ice-cold pan?  Or maybe it just happens to me.  So, put a pasta pot onto boil, heat some neutral oil and butter (a tablespoon each)  in a largish saute pan over somewhat high heat, and set the oven to 350 degrees.  Start the steamer to simmering.  No steamer? I couldn't find mine, so I put a small pot on the stove to boil.

Second step (12 minutes):  While things are warming up, chop a large shallot along with a seasoning pepper, if you've got one.  If not, a little finely chopped bell pepper and an infinitesimal flick of cayenne will do.  Cut up a small bunch of broccoli into stems and florets. Season six chicken thighs.*  Chicken into pan, skin side down.  Turn occasionally (best to use tongs,** thighs can sputter viciously), until nicely browned, 10  minutes or so.  In between turns, get the broccoli into the steamer or pot.  Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Drain; leave in pot.  I was going to serve steamed broccoli,  but the florets were started to look a bit jaundiced and sad, so puree it is.  Check pasta water, but it's probably not quite at a boil yet.

Third step (7-8 minutes): Remove chicken to a plate for a couple of minutes.  Meanwhile, lower heat, drain off most of the fat, add shallots and peppers.  Cook until softish, 2 or 3 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup stock (water would do, just, or you could use all red wine) and a hefty slug, perhaps a half cup, of red wine.  Get the chicken into the oven in order to finish cooking, in another pan or on a baking sheet.  If there are any juices on the plate, add to the stock and wine.  Add noodles to boiling water, which I hope you have salted.  Reduce the sauce over high heat for about five minutes; add a half can of whole-berry cranberry sauce.  Stir in.  Reduce until a wooden spoon drawn across the pan leaves a trail.***  Lick spoon.  Add salt, pepper, or whatever other spices you might find pleasing.

Fourth step (8 minutes): Break up broccoli.  Puree broccoli in a minichop, food processor, or with an immersion blender with about a tablespoon of butter.  Add cream, half and half, or milk, until the puree is smooth but thick.  Season with salt, white or black pepper, and a tiny flick of nutmeg.  Return to pan, keep warm over low heat.  Check noodles for doneness; they're not.  Chop a handful of parsley.   Noodles now done.  Drain.  Toss with butter and parsley.  Chicken should be cooked through.  Add to cranberry sauce, turn to coat, over medium low heat.

Fifth step (45 seconds):  Plate.  Take picture.  Check clock: It's 7:48. Congratulate self.  Serve.  Drink balance of wine.

*You can make this with boneless skinless chicken breasts, if you must.  Skip oven step; just return the white, flavorless, yet wonderfully healthy slabs to the sauce after it has been reduced.
**I know it's blurry.  Do you think it's easy turning hot chicken with your right hand, and taking a picture of  it with your left?
***See **.


Anonymous said...

As always, I love the way you turn a phrase (can't think of a pun here, 'turn a rotisserie of a phrase?' there must be one here somewhere, but I am too hungry to THINK).

And now I must peek at the code of your page & see HOW ON EARTH you achieved the "strike-through" in the letters of "cat food," but I am too hungry to THINK.

-- Lorraine

Anonymous said...

I'll do anything you tell me to in the kitchen! I've got to figure out a way to have this read to me while I'm trying to relax and make it look efficient yet devil-may-care as you do.

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I'm a ninth-generation Brooklyn native living in Manhattan.