Thursday, January 27, 2011

Skillet Rosemary Chicken

I've been on a huge comfort food kick lately. I guess it's the cold. And the fact that it snows significantly every five to seven days (or maybe three to five days, judging by the current 10-day forecast). All of my meal choices seem to revolve around having a pot simmering on the stove for several hours (this may also be because I'm in love with my new Dutch oven - it's orange!): chicken cacciatore, beef stew, arroz con pollo, baked potato soup.

I know, I know - you want to know why I didn't blog about most of these. Sometimes one is so concerned with getting the stew in the pot so it'll be cooked by dinnertime that taking pictures falls by the wayside. And other times one takes meticulous pictures of, say, a baked potato soup that comes out more like mashed potatoes (the most delicious mashed potatoes ever, but not quite a soup). These things get filed under "next time."

But what I have for you today is better, in many ways, because it has all the comfort of comfort food in a fraction of the time. Roast chicken is awesome - simple, yet juicy and tender. Carrots and potatoes will soak up all the juices and flavor from the bottom of the pan. But it can take hours, depending on your chicken and your roasting temperature. And you have to handle a whole, raw chicken, which I find nasty.

Never fear, however. You can have all the benefits of roast chicken without all the hassle. This recipe takes about 40 minutes and the results are just as good as if it had spent hours in the oven. The biggest hassle, in my eyes, is portion size. It uses bone-in chicken breast halves, which are far too big for one person. I suppose they could be cut in half, if you had a meat cleaver and felt like butchering raw chicken. If you, like me, do not have such inclinations, you can be careful to only eat half. It's worked for me so far.

Skillet Rosemary Chicken
Adapted from Food Network.

3/4 lb small red-skinned potatoes
2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for potatoes
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 tbsp leaves
1 clove garlic, smashed
pinch red pepper flakes
1 lemon, halved and juiced (don't throw away the juiced halves!)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 bone-in chicken breasts (the original recipe calls for four, but I found that two is plenty for my skillet)
3 carrots, cut into chunks

Preheat oven to 450°F. Quarter potatoes and put in a pot. Add enough cold water to cover. Salt and bring to a boil. Boil for ~8 minutes, until tender. Drain and reserve.

Pile rosemary leaves, garlic, 2 tsp salt and red pepper flakes in a mortar and grind to a paste. (Fresh rosemary is obviously going to work best here, since it will release oils which will contribute to the paste. Unfortunately, my rosemary bush is covered in snow at the moment, so I used dried leaves and some extra garlic for lubrication. It seemed to work fine.)

Transfer the paste to a bowl. Stir in the olive oil and half the lemon juice. Add the chicken breasts and turn to coat.

Heat a cast-iron (or other oven safe) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down. Cover and cook ~5 minutes, until skin is browned.

Turn the chicken. Pile the potatoes and carrots underneath the chicken and drizzle with the remaining lemon juice. Add rosemary sprigs (again, I skipped this for want of fresh ones and it was still ok) and lemon halves. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast, uncovered, 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crisp. Enjoy!

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