Friday, June 28, 2013

Buffaloed Chicken Legs with Braised Celery and Roquefort Smashed Potatoes

There are few things more daunting than returning home after a long day of work, starving, and wishing dinner would put itself on the table so you could take a break. I actually know quite a few people who cook for the week over the weekend and then reheat dishes as needed. Convenient, yes, but reheated food seriously lacks the quality of its fresh counterpart. It can also be a challenge for small families of two (or even one) to sometimes create elegant food that is satisfying without becoming resigned to leftovers for the rest of the week.

Carla Snyder's new cookbook One Pan, Two Plates solves that problem. Carla has laid out a plan for creating complete dinners in less than an hour (often times in less than 30 minutes), utilizing only one pan (less dishes!), and feeding the magic number two. Whether you are a couple, or a couple of roommates, it's nice to have an arsenal of recipes geared toward you while still taking lots of thought into creating rounded, composed dishes.

The book is divided into chapters for pastas, grains, and hot sandwiches, meat dinners, egg, turkey, and chicken dinners, and fish dinners, and wraps up with a "find it fast" section which suggests recipes for 30 minutes or less meals, seasonal meals, vegetarian meals, and easily adapted to vegetarian meals.

While Snyder claims in the introduction that the pasta and grain dishes are "both healthful and inexpensive," I can only agree with the inexpensive part. The first recipe is a baked macaroni and cheese that is not lightened up at all. I'm sure it's delicious, and I will happily make it (I love mac and cheese!), but it's a bit misleading to use the word "healthy." Otherwise, I think Snyder follows through on everything else the book represents.

Every recipe features a start to finish time and a hands on time, as well as notes at the end of the recipe that discuss ingredients or cooking techniques, suggestions for add-ons to the meal if you're extra hungry, and finally a recommended wine or beer to compliment the meal. Additionally, none of the recipes are overly complicated or require obscene numbers of ingredients.

There are lots of international recipes, which is great because quick dinners thrown together on weeknights can fall into the boring category pretty fast. There are many Asian countries represented, for example, with dishes like Pad Thai, Spicy Orange Beef Stir-Fry with Lime, Cashews, and Noodles, Miso-Glazed Cod with Wilted Asian Cabbage Slaw, and Lamb Korma among others.

I selected something a bit more American to try, featuring one of my all-time favorite flavor profiles. The Buffaloed Chicken Legs with Braised Celery and Roquefort Smashed Potatoes takes my absolute favorite bar food and turns it into a complete dinner with side dishes.

I thought it was really cool the way the dish cooked together so conveniently in one pan. The potatoes roasted and softened with the help of beef broth, while the celery simultaneously braised next to them. Meanwhile, the chicken was safely perched above and cooked to tender perfection.

When the pan came out of the oven, the chicken and celery were plated while the potatoes got their finishing touch with the help of a potato masher and some sour cream and Roquefort. In the end, this meal was very satisfying. Its ease to prepare made it high on my list for future weeknight meals. Although the book could use more photos, I look forward to trying more recipes from this book and think it would be a great gift for a couple or even a couple of roommates.

Buffaloed Chicken Legs with Braised Celery and Roquefort Smashed Potatoes
Serves 2
(From One Pan, Two Plates)

4 to 6 meaty chicken drumsticks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T. olive oil (I used a bit less)
1 shallot, chopped
12 oz (340 g) fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
3 celery stalks, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into thirds
2/3 cup (165 ml) low-sodium beef or chicken broth
1 or 2 T. Frank's Red Hot Sauce
2 T. sour cream
2 T. crumbled Roquefort cheese, plus more for garnish, if desired

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Heat a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken legs and brown them on all sides, about 6 minutes total (use a splatter screen if you have one). Transfer the chicken to a plate (it will finish cooking later).

Pour off all but 1 T. of the fat in the pan. Add the shallot and potatoes to the pan and saute for about 2 minutes. Scrape the potatoes to one side of the pan and add the celery to the empty half, spreading it in a single layer. Pour the broth over the vegetables and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper. Bring the broth to a simmer, then arrange the chicken legs across the potatoes and celery, still keeping them separate. Spread 1 T. of the hot sauce all over the legs. Transfer to the oven and roast until the chicken is cooked through and the veggies are tender, about 30 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of a leg.

Remove the pan from the oven and drizzle the chicken with the remaining 1 T. hot sauce if you like is spicy. Transfer the chicken and celery to two warmed plates. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher, mixing in any juices from the pan, then mash in the sour cream and cheese. Season the potatoes with more salt and pepper if they need it, then scoop the mash onto the plates with the chicken and celery. Scatter more Roquefort on top, if you love it. Serve hot.

*Disclaimer* I received no compensation to write this review other than a free copy of the book. My opinions are always my own.


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