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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thanksgiving-y Chicken Dinner

Our friends, the M. family, cook chicken every Friday. What a great idea! I used to drive myself crazy thinking what to cook for dinner every Friday. We like to have a nice dinner to celebrate the end of the week and beginning of the weekend. So, I embraced their idea and was looking for a recipe with home-style feel that will warm the heart and soul with seasonal spices and down to earth ingredients.

Dinner tonight was inspired by a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks “Nightly Specials” by Michael Lomonaco. I cook from this book very often for the reason that it has many wonderful recipes like: Philly cheese steak; Roasted corn chowder with shrimp and tarragon; Beef and porter stew; Moroccan lamb stew; Alpine baked pasta; Coconut-scented basmati rice; Paella with chicken and sausage; Toasted barley and butternut squash; Pan-roasted halibut with asparagus, fava beans, and thyme broth; Floribbean-style tilefish pan-fried with limes, chiles, tomatoes, and avocado; Steamed bass with lemongrass and chile-coconut broth; Bitter greens and honey almonds… The list goes on and on, you got the picture.

I’ll just mention that the book has a recipe for the best French fries ever! And a very nice Flourless chocolate cake.
Anyway… let’s move on.

There is a recipe in the book for “Braised chicken with butternut squash, walnuts and sage” that I wanted to make. But I made so many changes in it that I think I can call it my own by now. I decreased the amount of spices to give the chicken a milder flavor than the usual Thanksgiving-y robust cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg combination so typical to recipes for the holiday season. And of course, like always, I made a few shortcuts, and added more vegetables. The result was terrific.

Thanksgiving-y chicken
Makes 4-6 servings

1 onion, medium diced
4 carrots, peeled and cut to large pieces
½ butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced large
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced large
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon ground ginger
Salt and ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 whole chicken legs, divided to thighs and drumsticks
2 tablespoon butter, cut to small pieces
Sage for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a big pan, toss the vegetables with salt, pepper, the spices, and olive oil.
Generously sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt, black pepper, and olive oil. Add to the pan with veggies and mix so chicken gets some of the spices on it. Arrange nicely in the pan, chicken skin side up. Spread butter on top.
Roast for 50-60 minutes until nicely browned and skin is crispy. (If you like the meat falling off the bone, after 60 minutes of cooking time, reduce the temperature to 350 and roast for another 20-30 minutes.)
Add sage for garnish before serving.

Have a wonderful dinner.

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