Sunday, November 4, 2012

"A Chicken in Every Pot" & "The Roasted Vegetable" - Chicken Baked in Cider & Roasted Beet Salad

Date I made these recipes:  October 28, 2012

A Chicken in Every Pot by Edith Vanocur
Published by:  Thomas Y. Crowell Company
© 1976
Recipe:  Chicken Baked in Cider – p. 22

The Roasted Vegetable by Andrea Chesman
Published by:  The Harvard Common Press
ISBN:  1-55832-169-1
Recipe:  Blue Cheese, Roasted Beet and Endive Salad with Orange Vinaigrette – p. 93-94

I was feeling in a fall kind of mood this weekend.  The weather has turned colder, Halloween is around the corner and so why not bake and roast and just hunker down for the day (especially with Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the east coast as we speak?)

Selecting today’s entrée was really easy (how convenient that the cookbook’s cover was a lovely shade of orange just in time for Halloween) and the dish itself took no time to assemble.  It’s a basic dish of chicken with apples, onions and a sauce of frozen apple cider concentrate mixed with Calvados (French apple brandy).  What I didn’t expect though, was that the apples would completely disintegrate, turning my lovely apples into applesauce.  No matter, we ate it anyway. (This gives new meaning to the term “October surprise,” usually used in politics.)

Finding a dish to accompany my chicken proved to be more challenging.  I wanted to do something with onions (I have a cookbook devoted to onions, onions and more onions) but my husband nixed that saying he wasn’t that fond of onions.  Say what?!  I think he feared I was going to make French onion soup, a threat I keep throwing at him and for whatever reason he is just not keen on that concept.  Silly rabbit—what is not to like about an onion soup topped with cheese and croutons?  That wasn’t what I suggested but he wrinkled his nose anyway and so I put that cookbook aside and brought out The Roasted Vegetable cookbook instead.

The challenge with this cookbook was not a lack of good recipes because there were plenty, but rather finding something that complimented my chicken.  At last I found something he could get behind – a roasted beet salad.

Michelle Obama was recently asked how she felt about beets and she said you’re either a beet person (with a beet “gene”) or you’re not and she’s not.  We are.  We love beets and he especially loves beets and blue cheese and so when my man’s eyes lit up when I read this recipe, we had ourselves a side dish. 

Don’t ask me why I was hell-bent on roasting a vegetable though.  It just seemed like the right thing to do despite the fact that I have many, many other cookbooks that I could have selected.  When the weather turns dour (“dour” is anything that is less than 75 degrees and it’s cloudy and gloomy), I hit the books that bring me comfort and roasting (and the warmth of ovens) gives me comfort.

The beauty of these two recipes is that they both cooked in a 400 degree oven so that made is easy—I hate adjusting oven temperatures.  And when I realized that my apples had turned to applesauce, I just turned that into a potato topping and went about my way – no fuss, no muss, no bother.

Enjoy fall.

Chicken Baked in Cider – serves 2 or 3
1 whole fryer
Salt and pepper
2 medium-sized onion, peeled
4 tart apples, peeled and quartered
¼ cup Calvados (optional)
1 6-ounce can frozen cider concentrate

Season the chicken inside and out.  Place the onions in the cavity of the chicken.  Place the apples in the bottom of a casserole and the chicken on top of the apples.  Mix the Calvados and cider and pour over the chicken.

Cover the casserole tightly and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour or less, until tender but not quite “done.”  Baste once or twice during baking.  Uncover and bake 10 more minutes, basting frequently.  The sugar in the liquids will glaze the chicken a beautiful brown.

Blue Cheese, Roasted Beet, and Endive Salad – serves 4 to 6
3 or 4 medium-size beets (about 1 pound), tops and roots trimmed to 1 inch
4 heads Belgian endive, sliced crosswise into 2-inch pieces
2 ounces Roquefort or other blue cheese, crumbled (about ½ cup)
¼ cup slivered almonds or chopped walnuts, toasted
½ cup Orange Vinaigrette (p. 94)

For Orange Vinaigrette – makes about ½ cup
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
White or freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons grapeseed, sunflower, or canola oil

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Place the beets on a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil and wrap to form a well-sealed packet.  Roast for 1 to 1 ¼ hours, until the beets are tender.  When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and cut into 2-inch matchsticks.

In a large salad bowl, combine the endive, blue cheese, and nuts.  Toss lightly.  Add the beets and toss again.  Drizzle the dressing over the salad, toss and serve at once.

To make the vinaigrette, combine the orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl to taste.  Slowly whisk in the oil until emulsified.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Use immediately.

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