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    Meat and Potato Skillet Gratin #Sunday Supper

    This may be one of my favorite Sunday Suppers. I love nearly everything with ground beef in it. I have been dying to try this recipe, so I was thrilled when Em from Sunday Suppers posted this week’s Dinner Ideas with Ground Beef.

    Best thing about this dish? It’s a one pan dish. There’s a lot of steps and prep, and it takes a long time to cook, but once you get going it’s a snap – unless you’re like me and start fixing dinner too late and end up eating at 8:00.

    It’s hearty, but not heavy. I didn’t think a pound of ground beef was enough. Seemed the potato to filling ratio wasn’t quite enough.

    Make sure you use a big enough pot to reduce the heavy cream or else you’ll end up like me – having your way to nice Dear One scrubbing the stove top!

    This gratin reheats well, so you can make it ahead and reheat it uncovered in a 350-degree oven.

    • 4 garlic cloves
    • 1 C heavy cream
    • 2 thyme branches
    • 2 T finely chopped fresh sage
    • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
    • 1 pound ground lean beef
    • 3/4 t kosher salt, more as needed
    • Black pepper, as needed
    • 1 C thinly sliced onion
    • 3 ounces baby spinach (3 packed cups)
    • 2 t Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 pound russet potatoes
    • 4 ounces Gruyère, grated (1 cup)

    Crush and peel 2 garlic cloves. In a small pot over medium heat, combine cream, the crushed garlic, the thyme and 1/2 tablespoon sage. Bring to a simmer; cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 30 minutes. Strain and cool.

    While cream cools, heat oil in an ovenproof 10-inch skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add half the beef and brown well, crumbling with a fork as it cooks. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper; transfer meat to a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining meat, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper.

    Add onion to pan drippings (drizzle with oil if pan seems dry). Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Peel and chop remaining 2 garlic cloves; add to pan with remaining sage. Return meat to skillet.

    Toss in spinach, a handful at a time, until wilted. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, the Worcestershire and pepper to taste.

    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Peel potatoes and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds.

    Layer half the potato slices over meat, with slices overlapping one another. Season lightly with salt and pepper; top with half the cheese. Repeat with remaining potatoes and cheese. Spoon reduced cream evenly over top.

    Cover pan tightly with foil and bake until vegetables are very tender, 60 to 75 minutes. Uncover and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes more. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

    4 to 6 servings

    Dinner Ideas Using Ground Beef

    Sunday Supper MovementThe Sunday Supper Movement is committed to bringing our readers delicious recipes that encourage them to gather and eat together around the family table. Search for your favorite ingredients on our Sunday Supper website. Also check out the Sunday Supper Pinterest boards for plenty more ideas and inspiration.

    Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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    Tuscan Chicken & Vegetable Stew

    I have to say from the outset that there is a lot of chopping going on here. A LOT. It was one of the things that almost kept me from trying this recipe.

    You read – I’ll chop …

    My new dear friend, mentor and cruise ship guru, Chloe, was making this one day while we were working at her home. (CHOP, CHOP, CHOP) Her house was filled with the most wonderful aromas. She assured me that this recipe was easy  … especially if you buy a rotisserie chicken. She gave me the recipe and looking at it, I still wasn’t sold. CHOP, CHOP

    Chop this. Chop that. Chop that other thing. Oh, yeah, and chop that thing over there, as well. And not just the Swedish Chef inspired chopping that I usually do … chopping so things are the same size. UGH! Not my forte.

    The next day, while we were working (yes, I spent a tremendous amount of time at her house), we sat and had this stew for lunch. Well, hush my mouth and pass my chopping knife! You could have added 7 more ingredients to this and I would have chopped away. (Well, not really)

    Chop … chop … chop …

    I acquiesced and tried it at home. This makes a HUGE pot of stew – which is good when you hate chopping neatly as much as I do. The Dear one and I had this for dinner one night and had 3 containers for the freezer. Some toasted bread and a green salad and you’re set on a chilly evening.

    So, Chloe … I went on an interview for a job as a tour guide. I was very content to sit on a tour bus with cruise ship passengers riding around Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island. Tour over, passengers leave, count your tips, done. Chloe and I hit it off instantly. You know, that rare, kindred spirit vibe you find only a few times in your life, if you’re lucky. During this interview, Chloe mentioned that she wanted to retire after the 2017 season. The next thing I knew – and I’m not quite sure what she saw in me, maybe it was my silliness in actually being willing to take the job – she was training me to take over her job when she retired. (chop, chop, chop)

    It was terrifying at first. So much information. So many moving parts. I would sit next to her, day after day, in utter awe at all the information in her head. Her ease with the most difficult people (myself included) was grace personified. Her innate ability to take the most difficult of scenarios, turn it around and make it seem like there was never an issue.

    I am sure many people who began the conversation all fired up had no idea how she managed turn the situation around, or perhaps didn’t even notice that the situation was turned around. She calls this the “please, pass the butter” voice. (I’m still working on that.) It was inspiring.

    But, aside from training me – mentoring really – adopting a bit – for this job of many facets … wait, I’ll explain. Does anyone remember the old Ed Sullivan Show? There was a fella on the show, quite often actually, who had many thin bamboo poles. He would start spinning plates on these poles and run around the stage, watching the plates, jiggling the poles, spinning plates, keeping all the plates up in the air. That, in a nutshell, is my job.

    Sorry, digressed … aside from mentoring me in this difficult transition, she became a dear friend. She and her darling husband Scott (and the dearest Lucy) fed me, wiped my tears, picked me up from the ground when I was at my lowest, taught me, guided me, became my family, laughed with me, drank wine with me at the end of a frustrating day, sighed with me, and guided me through a frantic summer and fall.

    On one of my worst days – I had made at least a billion mistakes – I had stepped away and there were tears streaming down my face. Scott came over, wiped them away and said, “Do you think Chloe has never made a mistake? Chloe has made more mistakes than this. Learn from them. Make new ones. And don’t let anyone see you crying.”

    I am truly grateful to Chloe for so much … more than I can ever possibly express, more than my heart and head can hold at times. It’s that rare type of symbiotic friendship where words are not always necessary, giggles and laughing are ever present, compassion is a given, forgiveness always there, and life is so much richer with them in it.

    Thank you so much, dear woman, for all you’ve done for and given me.

    Anyway, enough mush …

    Every time I make this soup, I think of sweet Chloe and miss the stuffin’ out of her! Hmmm, maybe I should give her a call while I’m chopping freakin’ vegetables …

    I joke about the chopping, but there is a lot. But once that’s done, that’s really it – jut add ingredients and stir. The apple cider vinegar gives it a layer of flavor that brings everything together.

    • 1 tablespoon oil
    • 3 tablespoon butter
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 cups chopped carrots
    • 3 cups chopped celery
    • 1 large zucchini, chopped
    • 1 sweet red bell pepper, chopped
    • ¼ cup flour
    • 4 cups chicken broth
    • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
    • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
    • 1 (19 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
    • 1 cup diced cooked chicken breast (I used rotisserie)
    • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves, chopped
    • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • fresh parsley
    • parmesan cheese

    In a large pot over medium high heat, add the butter and olive oil. Add in the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and saute for about 4-5 minutes, until tender and fragrant.

    Stir in the zucchini and red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes until slightly softened.

    Sprinkle in the flour to create a roux and cook for another minute. Slowly add 1 cup of the chicken broth while continuously stirring until it starts to thicken and comes together. Then slowly pour in the remaining chicken broth.

    Stir in the Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, beans and entire can of tomatoes.

    Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add the chicken and reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes.

    Stir in the spinach and cider vinegar and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or until everything is heated through.

    Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot with fresh parsley and parmesan cheese, if desired.

    Perfect Roast Chicken

    DSC_1069

    This is so much less about roasted chicken than it is about chicken in general.

    Really, once you’ve roasted one or two chickens, you have the basics down pat and there isn’t much to change aside from herbs and citrus and, perhaps, what you roast around it.

    My fall back recipe – as I cannot for the life of me keep oven temperatures or timing in my head – is an oldie but a goodie, from the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten. I admit. I’m boring. I stuff a head of garlic that I cut in half horizontally, a lemon that I cut in half, and whatever fresh herbs I have around inside the chicken. I liberally sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper, and Bob’s your uncle. Potatoes, carrots and onions around the chicken. Completely fix it and forget it.

    As most of you know, I am now living in DownEast Maine – and why is it called downeast Maine? Well, I’ll tell ya! Coastal schooners laden with goods for Portland and other Maine ports would leave Boston, Massachusetts keeping their compass headings generally east or northeast, hoping that the prevailing wind from the westerly quadrants would stay behind them. Hence, they sailed downwind in an easterly direction. Hence, they were traveling down east. Things are very different here.

    And you must be wondering why, if I don’t really use a roasted chicken recipe am I prattling on about roasted chickens and living on an island off the coast of Maine.

    El Dia de la Pollo Muerto … the day of the dead chickens.

    A some of our friends once a year purchase chicks. They’re so very cute when they’re little. We would go over and look at them, watch them grow. I would wonder why, unlike the laying birds that are free range, these chicks were penned. Seems you can have either laying chickens or eating chickens.  They raise a bunch of eating chickens. Once they’ve been tended to and loved and fattened up … well, el dia de la pollo muerto.

    HORRIFYING! I know! Growing up in the big city, while you try to be conscientious about how animals are being raised and what they’re being fed, you don’t necessarily give much though to the in between raising and purchasing/eating.

    Around November, the Dear One and some of our friends get together and – to quote the Queens of Hearts – off with their heads.

    I have been invited to attend this gala event. I have politely declined, trying not to make the squelched up face I’m making as I type. ‘They’ say it’s quick and painless (let’s ask the chicken that!) and rather quick to go from live chicken to ready to eat. I don’t know the actual process, but there are beheadings, and contraptions that look like dryers that do the defeathering, and the descriptions just get worse from there.

    My last conversation with our friend MG went something like this –

    MG: You should come. It’s great. Fascinating to watch.
    ME: Are you kidding? No way, no how, no time.
    MG: Oh, it’s not so bad. Quick.
    ME: Well, what time do you start? But DON’T count on it. And I’m not helping
    MG: ME? No, no, no, no. I don’t go. I can’t bear it.

    Seriously, Dude?

    So I stay home. Thinking good thoughts for the poor little chickens giving so much of themselves for my roasting pan, and convince myself that the chickens going to my freezer are all from the grocery store. You see, the one request with these 8-10 incredible chickens that come into the house … no feet, no heads, no feathers, no guts, and please put them in plastic bags so I can pretend there was just a fantastic sale on chickens.

    I do wonder if the laying hens feel guilty. There they are, well fed, out all day playing in the sun with the turkeys and guinea fowl, goats (meanest little creatures ever born), and the pig, Kevin. Why are they safe? Are they to be next? One will never know the mind of a chicken.

    That being said, these are probably the best chickens I have even eaten. Cooked here only for those deserving, chosen few.

    This past go round, I was honored with a big bag of chicken livers and skin … pate and cracklings … more no that later.

    • 1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
    • Kosher salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
    • 1 lemon, halved
    • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
    • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
    • 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
    • 4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
    • 1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
    • Olive oil

    NOTE: I skip the melted butter, use whatever fresh herbs I have around, and substitute potatoes for the fennel.

    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

    Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

    Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

    Beef in Barolo

    Done

    Trying to decide what we’re having for dinner is liken to an unending loop of a scene from the film Marty. “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know, Marty, what do you want to do?”

    “What do you want for dinner?”

    “I don’t know. What do YOU want for dinner?”

    Only the person who asks the question first has an advantage … “Well, I asked you first,” is usually the (not so) snappy retort.

    Pick a protein, pick an ethnicity, give me a jumping point and I’ll happily create something, but please decide before I leave for town …

    This entire stressful, daily conversation usually takes place before 8:00 am.

    This one particular day, a Saturday even, I was saved by a rather large box in the mail. From KitchenAid. A box from KitchenAid is ALWAYS a good thing.

    A little back story … When the Dear One and I moved all my worldly possessions to Maine 2 1/2 years ago, my slow cooker was the last thing placed on the truck. When we opened the doors some 9 bouncy hours later, the ceramic liner for my slow cooker was the first thing off the truck … KER-plunk … SMASH … sadness.

    It’s has taken me that long to pick up the phone and call KitchenAid (BTW, some of the BEST customer service around) and order a new one. I was SURE it would be expensive. I was SURE they wouldn’t have  it. I was SURE wrong! It was very, very reasonable and the shipping was $2!

    While opening the box I knew, just knew, that whatever “what-do-you-want-Marty” meal I was going to cook was definitely going into the slow cooker.

    There’s something wonderful and magical about the slow cooker … food goes in, you set it, go about your day, come back to a home filled with wonderful aromas, a couple of quick sides and you’re done.

    But what to make?

    Wait! In our chest freezer in the bowels on our basement is a chuck roast. The Dear One offered to do the grocery shopping one morning. Thrilled with the idea of rolling over and going back to sleep for a while, I acquiesced. (As an aside, I love food shopping. There’s something about looking at food, loving picking out produce, picking just the right cut of meat or fish that’s just so … well, my fellow foodies, I know you understand.) Back to the Dear One. He wanted a roast. Okay. I made a list and sent him off into the world. He returned with a chuck roast. Not really a Sunday dinner kinda roast cut so I scowled at it and sent it off to the freezer, mostly to be forgotten.

    Gazing through the slow cooker books on my shelf, I came across The Italian Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone. I’ve had this recipe for Beef in Barolo bookmarked from my very first pass through the book. What cut of meat does it take, you may wonder. Well, a CHUCK ROAST. The Dear One has been saved, the roast has been liberated from the icy depths.

    And what a recipe it is! The cloves give the beef and sauce a wonderful warmth, the wine and pancetta … just layer after layer of flavor. There is the bit that early in the morning you’re searing a hunk-o-beef and veggies, but so worth it in the end!

    • 1/3 C all-purpose flour
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1 3-pound boneless beef chuck or bottom round roast
    • 3 T olive oil
    • 2 ounces pancetta, chopped
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 C dry red wine, such as Barolo
    • 2 C peeled, seeded, and chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
    • 1 C beef broth
    • 2 medium carrots, sliced
    • 1 medium celery rib, sliced
    • 1 bay leaf
    • Pinch of ground cloves

    NOTE: Even here in culinary wasteland of Bar Harbor I was able to find chopped pancetta in the specialty deli section. I always keep a few of these in the freezer for a quick meal and to avoid chopping. I used the wine I had on hand and open. As long as you’d actually drink it and it’s dry any red wine will do.

    Combine the flour with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the mixture on a piece of wax paper and roll the meat in the flour.

    In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and brown it on all sides, about 15 minutes. Place the meat in a large slow cooker. Add the pancetta and onion to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender. Stir in the garlic. Add the wine and bring it to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan.

    Ready to Slow Cook

    Pour the mixture over the beef. Add the tomatoes and broth. Scatter the carrots, celery, bay leaf, and ground cloves around the meat. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork.

    Transfer the meat to a platter. Remove the bay leaf from the sauce. Slice the meat and spoon on the sauce.

    NOTE: I served this over garlic mashed potatoes, but polenta would be wonderful. Sadly, the Dear One isn’t fond of polenta.

    done 2

     

    Iron Skillet Roasted Chicken with White Beans and Tomatoes

    Ready to serve

    After what seemed like forever, I left New York (again) and went home to Maine (again). The next days were filled with errands, getting the house settled before the Dear One’s return, and breakfast and giggling with my girlfriends.

    But in the evening, I was home alone, and then suddenly you realize just how big the house is and how empty, and you want to have people around you, so then the conversations went something like this …

    Thank you so much for watching the house and picking me up and picking up the mail and packages and turning up the heat. Wanna come for dinner? Sure, but I have a house guest. Bring him. The more the merrier.

    Hey, I’m back in town. Wanna come over for dinner? Sure!

    Okay, dinner for 2 is now dinner for 4. I can do that. Same recipe, just no leftovers.

    Uh, oh, the phone is ringing … we’re going out for dinner, do you want to come. Sorry, can’t, company coming. Oh, well, I’d much rather come to your house. Sure, come on over. GREAT! But I have a house guest. Bring her along.

    Dinner for 2 turned into dinner for 4 and then into dinner for 6. Yipes! Now what!? I trolled through the recipes I have been dying to try and found this recipe that I had first seen in Relish Magazine and then in  Y’all Come Over by Patsy Caldwell and Amy Lyles Wilson. One skillet. Perfect. Lots of great ingredients. Fab! Seriously simple and quick to make. Even better! Turned out to be really easy to double, just switching from a 10″ cast iron skillet to a 15″ cast iron skillet.

    (Heard around the dinner table … hmmm, yum, this is so good. So glad you’re back home. We missed you. Does M know you’re having 4 men over for dinner while he’s away? Answers: thank you, I am too, and me you, and OF COURSE he knows. HEAVY SIGH!)

    As it turns out it was a good thing I fed them all BEFORE the insanity started! See, it seems I live my life like Lucy Riccardo. No, really. Stop giggling, please, I have so little dignity left.

    This group of fellows and my dear friend Lisa were my saviors for the week and a half I was home alone. There were locked doors and dog doors (and snow) and pterodactyls (and snow) and more locked doors and broken windows that needed to be removed and replaced (and snow) and lost spare tires and snow and cancelled flights because of snow and more cancelled flights (can you believe more snow in Maine) and yet more cancelled flights (you know the word that fits here) and a wee bit of emotional upheaval.

    While I realize I have kept them all VERY entertained (when one of them now hears my voice on the phone, he laughs, asks if I’m okay, and then ‘so what did you do’), they kept me very entertained and feeling loved and cared for during my first time home alone trial by fire.

    Give this dish a whirl … you will be making it for company again and again!

    • 1/4 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled (reserve drippings)
    • 1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into serving pieces
    • 1 1/2 t salt, divided
    • 1/2 t black pepper
    • 1/2 C thinly sliced onion
    • 1 can (14-oz) stewed tomatoes
    • 1 t crushed red pepper
    • 2 cans (15-oz) Great Northern beans, drained

    NOTE: I sort of increased this to 1 1/2 of the original above recipe, but using 3 cans of beans and two cans of the tomatoes and 4 1/2 pounds of chicken thighs.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

    Bacon

    Place the bacon drippings in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat.

    NOTE: I made the bacon in the skillet I used to make the whole dish and just left the drippings in the skillet.

    Dry the chicken pieces with a paper towel, and season with 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Brown the chicken in the bacon drippings, turning once, until the skin is golden brown. Remove the chicken to a plate and keep warm.

    Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat and stir in the onions. Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes, scraping up any brown bits.

    Adding tomatoes

    Add the tomatoes, crushed red pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook uncovered for about 4 minutes or until the juices are thickened. Add the reserved bacon and the beans. Top with the browned chicken pieces, skin side up. Place skillet in the oven and bake uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes.

    Some bread to sop up the sauce, a salad, and you are done!

    Basque Chicken

    Ready

    I am loving the recipes from Relish Magazine more and more all the time. I wanted something to use as a main dish with the Baked Orzo with Vegetables. You know, something with similar ingredients and flavors so the meal sort of melded, but also so that ingredients for three recipes could be chopped once and spread across all the dishes. This worked perfectly!

    I must admit that at first I was a little concerned about the smoked paprika! Rather, the amount of smoked paprika – especially after it went up my nose! But the smoked paprika really mellowed in the oven and was delicious with the roasted peppers and tomatoes.

    This was really easy to put together and makes a simple, go to company dish. Add to it a salad, some roasted potatoes or orzo, and bread and you have a feast on your hands!

    When I added more chicken the second night, I started it in a pan on top of the stove. I think I liked this better and will do this in the future. It keeps the skin a  little crisper, which I prefer. Though, due to so many dishes being cooked at the same time and at varying degrees of temperature, the correct, higher temp may have been enough to crisp the skin up. We may need to try this again to be sure.

    • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
    • 6 garlic, thinly sliced
    • 3 to 4 pounds chicken breasts, with bone and skin
    • 1 t salt
    • 1 t coarsely ground black pepper
    • 2 T olive oil
    • 1 T Spanish smoked paprika
    • 3 to 4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
    • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, sliced or 2 roasted red peppers
    • 1 C reduced-sodium chicken broth

    NOTE: I did not peel the tomatoes, nope, wasn’t gonna do it. I did take the seeds out. There was enough liquid in the dish without adding more. I also used only chicken thighs.

    Preheat oven to 425F.

    Garlic and onions

    Spread onions and garlic evenly in the bottom of a large shallow roasting pan. Cut each chicken breast in half. Sprinkle chicken pieces on both sides with salt and pepper. Place chicken, skin side up, in pan.

    NOTE: We had people over two nights in a row. Same dinner, twice (how easy is that). I did want more chicken to add into all the saucy goodness from the night before, so sprinkled salt and pepper and smoked paprika over the chicken and added the chicken to a cast iron skillet, with some onion and garlic, skin side down, until skin was nice and brown, flipped them over and plunged them into the oven for 40 minutes, let the new chicken cool a bit and the old chicken come to room temperature, and then added the old chicken, the new chicken and all the sauce into a baking dish to warm up.

    Ready to bake

    Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with paprika. Bake 20 minutes.

    Add tomatoes, red peppers and broth. Continue baking 35 to 40 minutes, basting chicken occasionally, until chicken juices run clear.

    Roasted Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Oregano

    Done maybe

    Can I just start by saying OH YUM?

    It’s sunny … and spring is trying to come along, but evenings still have a bit of a chill, and if you spend part of your life as far north as I do, it’s still DAMN chilly at night!

    I wanted to make something warming, comforting, to satisfy after a long day of working, but still delicious, light and spring-like. Lemons always seem to make things bright and light. When I found this recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine in the December 2012 issue, I knew I had to make this, and that this dish would bring smiles all around. This quick and easy to put together dish did just the trick!

    My finished photo is a little darker than I had hoped, but there’s a terrible reason, and my tale of woe is told below …

    • 1 lemon
    • 4 large or 8 small skin-on, boneless chicken thighs
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 t olive oil, divided
    • 3 sprigs oregano
    • 1 T minced shallot
    • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
    • 1/8 t crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/4 C dry white wine
    • 1/2 C low-sodium chicken broth

    Preheat oven to 425°

    Sliced lemons

    Very thinly slice half of lemon; discard any seeds. Cut remaining lemon half into 2 wedges.

    NOTE: I used more than HALF a lemon! I sliced one lemon thinly and then used half of a second one for wedges, but I am a bit of a sour person (no comments, please).

    Chicken

    Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

    Browning skin

    Coat a large room-temperature skillet with 1 teaspoon oil. Add chicken, skin side down. Place skillet over medium heat and cook, letting skin render and brown, and pouring off excess fat to maintain a thin coating in pan, until chicken is cooked halfway through, about 10 minutes.

    NOTE: This seemed to be more than 10 minutes. And, yes, pour off the excess fat, it makes a huge difference.

    Adding lemon

    Scatter half the lemon slices on the bottom of skillet and half directly on top of the chicken (the slices on top of the chicken will soften; those in the skillet will caramelize).

    NOTE: I put some of the slices directly under the chicken pieces. This may have softened the skin a bit too much, so next time I’ll just put it in the skillet.

    Transfer skillet to oven, leaving chicken skin side down. Roast until chicken is cooked through, skin is crisp, and lemon slices on bottom of skillet are caramelized, 6-8 minutes.

    NOTE: Again, this took longer than 6-8 minutes. Judge for yourself when the chicken is done.

    Ready for sauce

    Transfer chicken pieces, skin side up, and caramelized lemon slices from bottom of skillet to a warm platter. (Leave softened lemon slices in the skillet.)

    Making sauce

    Return skillet to medium heat. Add oregano sprigs, shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

    NOTE: Now, do try to RESIST the urge to grab the skillet handle when you stir. It’s SERIOUSLY hot. It just came out of the oven, remember? How do I know this, you might ask? I grabbed it. I seriously burned my hand … was jumping around the kitchen HOWLING, tears streaming down my face, while being chased to get some first aid to my 4 burned fingers and palm (oh, when I do it, I do it good!). Thanks to some quick thinking, beaten egg whites, tons of burn cream being applied and reapplied and reapplied, a bandage of paper towels and duct tape (sorry I didn’t take a photo of this!)  and a lot of TLC, I woke up the next morning without a single blister. I was lucky … THIS TIME! Thank you.

    Ready to finish

    Remove skillet from heat. Add wine; cook over medium heat until reduced by half, 1-2 minutes. Add broth; cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Squeeze 1 lemon wedge over and season sauce with salt, pepper, and juice from remaining lemon wedge, if desired. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons oil.

    Return chicken to skillet, skin side up, to rewarm. Serve topped with caramelized lemon slices.

    NOTE: I served this with orzo seasoned with oregano and lemon zest and a salad. You definitely need bread, you won’t want to let a single drop of the sauce go to waste!