Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chicken with Green Olives, Orange and Sherry; Endive and Apples with Grapes; Baked Sweet Potatoes

Now don’t lie to me. What’s better than picturing a meal and having it taste exactly the way you imagined? What’s better than cooking a meal for someone who means the world to you and having them say it was their favorite thing you ever cooked for them? Well, I mean, I don’t mean to toot my own horn but….beep-beep. This meal is something that came to me when I was thumbing through recipes on Bon App├ętit (big surprise) and fell in love with the flavors in my imagination. The more I read and the more I taste the more I’m finding that it’s easier for me to predict and improvise.

This meal was devised through the feelings I have for someone very close to my heart. Someone who deserved my best effort and who I knew would appreciate it.

I find that when you cook for people who fill your world with joy, there is a certain ease to every cut of the knife, every taste with the spoon and every extra last minute ingredient you add to a dish. When you’re cooking for someone who knows exactly how much thought and effort you put into a meal, it allows the composure of the meal to come with ease thus allowing the imagination to sore.

Now, I’m getting carried away with a simple meal. I am no chef but this is a dish I am very proud of. I am always thankful to have company to cook for and now, as I make my dreams come true, I’m thankful to have wonderful friends, near and far, who adore my enthusiasm and influence these silly dreams of mine.

Enjoy, loves, this is for all of you!

Chicken with Green Olives, Oranges, and Sherry:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 4 3/4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 cup sliced shallots (about 3 large)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup medium Sherry
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 orange, halved lengthwise, each half cut into 5 wedges (I used a blood orange)
  • 1/3 cup brine-cured green olives (such as picholine)
  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat oil in large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to skillet; cook until skin is crisp and browned, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate. Reduce heat to medium-high. Drain all but 2 tablespoons drippings from skillet. Add shallots; stir until soft and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add Sherry; boil until reduced by half, scraping up browned bits, about 3 minutes. Add chicken broth; bring to boil. Return chicken, skin side up, to skillet. Place orange wedges and olives among chicken pieces. Transfer to oven and braise uncovered until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  • Transfer chicken to platter. Bring sauce to boil over high heat. Stir in honey; boil until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce, oranges, and olives over chicken, or return chicken to skillet and serve.

Endive, Apples (Pears), and Grapes:

  • 2 large unpeeled tart-sweet apples (such as Fuji or Gala) (2 Bosc Pears)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 large heads of Belgian endive (12 to 16 ounces total), halved lengthwise
  • 4 small clusters green grapes
  • 5 small fresh rosemary sprigs (I didn't use these- they are out of season)
  • Fleur de sel or other sea salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons water

  • Quarter and core apples. Using vegetable peeler, shave off thin strip of peel down center of each apple quarter, leaving remaining peel intact. Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add endive, cut side down, to skillet. Add apple  wedges, 1 cut side down, to skillet. Add grape clusters and scatter rosemary sprigs over; cook, uncovered, without turning or stirring, until endive is caramelized on bottom and apples are just tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully turn endive, apples, and grapes over; baste with liquid in skillet and cook until apples are very tender, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Season with fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Transfer endive mixture to platter. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons water to skillet, scraping up any caramelized bits, forming small amount of sauce. Spoon sauce over endive mixture and serve.

*Chef’s note: I used pears instead of apples because I thought they would go better with the chicken. Swapping out the navel oranges and using blood oranges and using pears instead of apples cut back on the sweetness of the dish and allowed for the chicken to be the star.The blood oranges were used more for flavor and a garnish in the dish and brought out the true flavor of the sherry. 

Baked Sweet Potatoes:
  • Two Large Sweet Potatoes (about 1 lb)
  • ¼ cup of olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet
  • Salt & Pepper

Heat oven to 425°F. Cut each potato evenly into quarter inch rounds and place in a medium bowl. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss until coated evenly. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and generously coat with more olive oil. Spread out the potatoes evenly on the sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, turning each piece over half way through the cooking.