Friday, November 21, 2008
ROAST CHICKEN WITH PEARS, SHALLOTS, AND LEEKS
This. Is. Amazing. If you only make one chicken recipe from this blog, make this one. Now! Hurry! You can thank me later.
I was a little suspicious about the pears. I’m not a proponent of putting fruit in savory dishes. (Big chunks of fruit, anyway; lemon and lime juice and zest obviously get a pass.) Sure, I’ve made exceptions—Brie and apple soup and butternut squash with sausage and apples—but in general if I see any hint of cranberries, figs, plums, raisins (god forbid) or any other such malarkey in a non-dessert recipe, I turn the page. I’m just close-minded that way. But the photo at Sassy Radish was so succulent-looking, I would have made any recipe that followed it, even if it were titled “Raisiny Chicken in Raisin Sauce.” Luckily, the title name-checked shallots and leeks instead, which I love. But then there was that pear, plus all that orange juice…would this chicken just be a mass of fruity sweetness?
Not at all. The chicken doesn’t even taste overwhelmingly orangey, but the juice gives the skin an impressive caramelized, burnished finish. Those sweet pear and orange flavors are facing off against savory shallots, leeks, garlic, olive oil, salt, and chicken fat, and they all melt together into a luxurious, addictively delicious compote blanketing tender, juicy, falling-off-the-bone chicken. (Do not even consider substituting chicken breasts or anything boneless and skinless here—the dark meat is integral to the moist, complex richness.) This is guaranteed to knock the socks off anyone you serve it to. They’ll be convinced that after years of expensive culinary-school training, you spent hours laboring in the kitchen over a hot stove crafting this gourmet masterpiece for their enjoyment. The kicker is that not only is this dish unique and mad tasty, it’s one of the easiest main dishes I’ve ever made. Throw everything in the pan and bake it—not even for that long, because you’re using small pieces of chicken instead of those dense, honkin’ breasts—and magically it transforms into molten awesomeness. Oh, and? And! If you’re still hesitant about using dark meat, let me just inform you that a package of 6 drumsticks at Trader Joe’s cost me under $3. TOTAL.
Delicious, creative, sophisticated, easy, pretty quick, and cheap? Folks, we may just have found the holy grail.
6 chicken drumsticks and/or thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
1 pear, thinly sliced
2 shallots, finely chopped
1–2 leeks, thinly sliced (white part only)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges)
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Wash and pat dry the chicken parts and place in a 9-by-11-inch glass baking dish. Surround the chicken with the pear, shallots, leeks, and garlic. Pour orange juice and olive oil over everything and season with salt and pepper.
3. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the drumsticks over and return to the oven for another 20–25 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Time: 50 minutes
Leftover potential: This yields a modest amount of food—for a while there, I didn’t even think we were going to have any leftovers because midway through our first drumsticks we were in such rapture that we’d already decided we needed to have a third one apiece, but this is actually pretty rich stuff, and after our second drumsticks we were definitely sated. A ate the two leftover drumsticks a couple of days later and reported that they were just as excellent as the first time around.