Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Cranberry Chicken For A Chilly Evening

We finally have gotten a few days of sun, but it's still pretty chilly, so I decided to make a baked chicken dish last night. I found it in a Rachel Ray magazine and it is a keeper! The skinless chicken stays moist under a shingling of bacon, plus the presence of a mixture of chicken broth and red wine. In general I can't drink wine, but I have found that I can eat things where the wine has been cooked. Yay! All the alcohol gets cooked off, but something else must get mellowed, too.

The components, besides the chicken and bacon, are sweet from the dried cranberries, savory from the broth and wine and balsamic vinegar, mellow from the translucent cooked onion wedges, and hearty from the red potato chunks. Add in the flavors of garlic, thyme, pepper and bay leaf and you have a dish that smells wonderful and tastes even better. All you need with it is a small salad or steamed veggies and, perhaps, some bread to sop up the delicious juices.

Because I never make anything quite how it is written up, I did change the chicken to boneless thighs, I added a 1/4 teaspoon fresh orange zest (cranberries  and orange are a match made in heaven), and I reduced the dried cranberries by 1/4 cup...and will reduce them by another 1/4 cup next time. I also didn't have fresh thyme, so I used dried thyme...2 teaspoons in the broth mixture and none for garnish.

There are a number of good reasons to make this dish besides the fact that it is yummy. First of all, it is relatively inexpensive. Then there is the bonus of a short prep time and about 30 minutes cooking time. Add to that the easy clean-up, especially if you line the casserole with heavy duty foil like I did. Last, but not least in my world, there is no dairy in this dish...and you don't miss it either. With no added oil, butter, cheese, or cream, it is fairly healthy, too...well, except for the bacon, but that adds so much flavor and fragrance that it would be a shame to leave it out. Sweetie helped me out by eating half my bacon. Isn't he the best?

Roasted Cranberry Coq au Vin
Serves 4
from Rachael Ray Every Day, March, 2017

1 1/4 cups dried cranberries (I used 1 cup but 3/4 cup would be better)
1 cup red wine, such as Pinot Noir or Beaujolais (I used Zinfandel)
1/2 cup chicken stock
6 large cloves garlic, chopped (don't worry, the garlic gets mellow in the oven)
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons onion salt
Optional: 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
3 tablespoons fresh thyme, divided (I used 2 teaspoons dried thyme)
4 bone-in chicken thighs (about 8 oz. each), skin removed (I used boneless skinless chicken thighs)
1 pound red potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, cut through core into 3/4-inch wedges
4 slices thick-cut hickory-smoked bacon, each cut into 4 pieces
8  1-inch thick slices French bread (didn't have any...didn't miss it)

Position oven rack to upper third of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix the first 7 ingredients and 2 tablespoons thyme (or all the dry thyme if using). Optional, but good: add 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest to the mixture.

In a large baking dish, arrange the chicken, potatoes and onion in a single layer. Shingle the bacon on the chicken. Add the cranberry mixture, pressing cranberries to submerge. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast in preheated 460 degree oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted into a chicken thigh registers 165 degrees F., about 30 minutes. If using fresh thyme, garnish with remaining 1 tablespoon.

Serve at once. If desired serve with bread to mop up the juices.

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