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Blood Orange Roasted Chicken Legs

March is when I start to get impatient for warmer weather. The days are long enough that I want to be outside frolicking, but it is still just too cold for me. And windy. I long for leaves on the trees and flowers in the garden and long walks outside. Aside from the weather, what I really long for is fresh fruit and produce that hasn’t been shipped from halfway across the world. Red, ripe strawberries, plump blueberries, heavy peaches.

Oh, enough of my whining. Let’s think about the good things that we can get at the store at this time of year, the chief of which is citrus. Lots and lots of citrus. In fact, right now, we have 6 different kinds of citrus in the house: lemons are always here, juice oranges, mini clementines, huge mandarins, cara cara navels for eating, and blood oranges.

Blood oranges. What do you do with those? Well, I have made marmalade with them, and we occasionally have them in a salad. They are generally not very sweet so not great for eating as a piece of fruit. They add a terrific color and tartness to fresh squeezed juice when combined with other, sweeter juices.

This week, the blood oranges were out of this world fantastic when paired with roasted chicken.

I don’t know about you, but roasted chicken is one of those foods that I can eat and eat and eat and never get tired of. In fact, I tend to hover around the pan after dinner is over, picking off little pieces here and there and eating more. And if there are any chicken wings involved, you can be sure there won’t be any left by the time I am done putting the leftovers away.

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This chicken dish is no exception. Actually, in a way, it’s even more delicious than your usual roast chicken because there is a pan sauce that just begs to be licked up and eaten. It feels like a crime not to wipe up every drop of sauce and consume it. The blood oranges brightens up the flavor without being too tart.

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Of course, our favorite part of this dish (and any roast chicken dish) is the crispy chicken skin. This photo was taken just before we ripped all the chicken skin off to eat it while it was still crispy because chicken skin only stays crispy for so long and it would be a shame to let it get soggy.

This dish couldn’t be easier to make. It takes less than 10 minutes to prep and the rest is just roasting time. Now, if you are feeling the late winter blues, try making this dish. It might just make you appreciate the season. Until you go outside, that is.

Blood Orange Roasted Chicken Legs
Inspired by Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Of course, you can use any type and combination of chicken pieces here. I use legs because we prefer dark meat and it is cheaper. If you do use breasts, you’ll want to take them out of the oven about 10 minutes earlier to make sure they don’t get too dry.

If you cannot get blood oranges, any tart little orange will work here. Clementines, tangerines, and possibly meyer lemons would probably be good.

Also, a convection oven will help the sauce reduce in the pan while roasting, but if you do not have one, I include instructions in the recipe for what to do if your sauce is not saucy.

5 small-medium blood oranges
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon whole or cracked mustard seeds
3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, cut into 1 inch wedges
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 fresh sprigs
4 whole chicken legs or about 3.5 pounds chicken pieces
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the standard (not convection) oven to 475 degrees.

2. Squeeze the juice from two of the blood oranges into a medium bowl or 2 cup measuring cup. To the orange juice, add the lemon juice, white wine, mustard, mustard seeds, brown sugar, and olive oil. Whisk to combine.

3. Pat dry the chicken, and season with salt and pepper. Place in a 13 by 9 inch roasting pan with the onion. Pour the marinade over and toss gently to combine. Sprinkle the thyme over the dish or toss in the sprigs, if you have them. Slice the remaining three oranges thinly, about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Scatter them in the pan, making sure most of the chicken skin is exposed. You can do this step up to 4 hours in advance. Just be sure to cover it and put it in the fridge if you are not cooking it right away.

4. Place pan in the oven and roast for 25 minutes. If you have a convection feature on your oven, you will use it after the initial roasting time. After the first 25 minutes are up, turn the convection feature on and reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Roast for another 15-20 minutes. Watch it carefully. I had a few too many things going on, so my oranges got a little burnt, but they are not there to be eaten really, just to add flavor, so I was ok with it. If you do not have a convection feature, just continue to roast at 475 until nicely browned.

5. This step is only if you feel your sauce is not thick enough, which might happen if you do not have a convection feature on your oven. Take out all the chicken and place in a serving dish or platter. Arrange the onions and orange slices decoratively around the chicken. If your oranges were overly dark, like mine, you can discard them, after gently squeezing out some of their juices. If your pan is stove top safe, place the pan on the burner over medium heat and simmer, stirring constantly until reduced and saucy. It should coat the back of your spoon. If your pan is not stove top safe, transfer all the sauce to a saucepan (try to get all the stuff stuck to the pan, too! There’s a lot of flavor there!) and simmer gently over medium heat until saucy.

6. Serve, eating all the crispy chicken skin first before it gets soggy. Serving it with bread will help you sop up every delicious drop of sauce.

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Holey Bread and Chicken!

For all of you who have been waiting patiently to see how the apple whole wheat bread turned out, we finally sliced it up for breakfast this morning. It looked liked this.

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Holey. Yup. This often happens with swirly bread. I have read several ways to mitigate this, but I am not sure any of them would have worked here anyway.

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Despite the gaping hole, it toasted nicely and was simply delish with salted butter and honey. It was definitely a worthwhile experiment and one that I will keep in mind for my next bread baking project, which, of course, will also involve apples because everything I am making these days has apples in it.

Everything except for this week’s ffwd recipe, Chicken Basquaise. Don’t ask me how to say it. Even though I took two years of college French, I am not certain how to pronounce this.

Anyway, because of my tomato intolerance and because I wanted to streamline this recipe a bit, I changed it a little. The first thing I did was to use roasted peppers, which Dorie does give as an option, except the husband roasted them a few days earlier when we were grilling other things and I kept them in the fridge until I needed them. I browned the chicken first, then cooked the onions and one poblano pepper that hadn’t gotten pre-roasted.

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After the onions and poblano were softened, I added the rest of the peppers and a tablespoon of tomato paste to replace the tomatoes called for in the recipe.

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The white wine and herbs went in with the chicken and I sprinkled everything with smoked paprika that I found at Trader Joe’s. I let it simmer until the chicken was done.

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It was pretty good. The poblano chile lent a subtle spiciness to the dish, but not too much for the boys. The chicken was nice and moist and the peppers and onions soft and sweet. I thought the pre-roasted peppers were a little on the slimy side, so I am not sure I would do the pre-roasting step again, but it was convenient. Maybe I’ll have to watch to make sure they don’t get too soft in the roasting process. The best thing is that the tablespoon of tomato paste seems not to have bothered me, so maybe I can have a little tomato in my life after all! Yay!

Leftovers Made New

If you roasted a turkey for Thanksgiving, chances are, you have a ton of leftovers.  We always do and as much as we try to eat through it all, there’s always more turkey left after all the side dishes have been eaten up.  There’s lots of recipes out there for using up leftover turkey, but some of them require more ingredients or work than I want to invest.  One day a few weeks ago, we roasted a couple of chickens.  About a week later, I came up with this really easy recipe for leftover chicken pot pie.

What makes it so easy?

It’s your leftover gravy!  That gravy is like liquid gold–especially if you made it in the pan that your chicken/turkey was roasted in.  If you don’t have any leftover gravy, then you’ll have to make a gravy to make your pie.  It’s pretty easy to do, but it does add an extra step.

I used a pie crust that I had on hand from the freezer, but you could also use leftover biscuits–just add them about halfway through the baking time.    If I have a lot of leftover turkey, I freeze the meat already cut up or shredded in quart-sized freezer bags.  Then, I can make this anytime!  I have also had success in making the filling for the pie and freezing it.  Then, later, all you have to do is thaw and assemble.  Easy!

Leftover Chicken or Turkey Pot Pie

You could use frozen veggies for this pie to make it even easier.  I would still suggest sauteeing an onion first, then continuing with the recipe using 2-3 cups of frozen veggies in place of the fresh ones.

1 onion, chopped

4 carrots, peeled and sliced

4 celery sticks, sliced

3-4 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken or turkey

2 cups chicken or turkey gravy

1 cup frozen peas

½ tsp dried thyme

6 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped, optional, but really yummy!

pie dough

Sautee vegetables in a dutch oven with 1 tablespoon of oil or chicken/turkey fat or bacon.

Add chicken and thyme and heat until just hot.

Add gravy and heat until hot. If it is too thick, add a little water. If you think that there is not enough sauce, add more gravy or broth, but be careful.  You do not want it to be too watery.  It should still be the consistency of gravy.  Be sure to taste this.  Sometimes, gravy is salty.  If this is the case, you may want to start by making a half recipe of the roux (see below) and adding gravy to it to taste.

Stir in the frozen peas and transfer the mixture to a baking dish-a 13 by 9 inch is fine.  I used an oval dish that’s just a little smaller than that.  You just want something that will hold about 3 quarts.

Roll out your pie dough and put on top.  Cut a few vent holes in the top.  Or, halfway through the baking time, place some extra biscuits on top of the sauce.

Bake 400 degrees until bubbly and crust is brown, 30-40 minutes.  Serves 4-6.

Easy Roux/gravy

If you like your pot pies creamy, substitute half of the broth for milk.  If making this for the pot pie, you can saute your veggies first, transfer them to a bowl, and then make the roux in the same pot.  See?  I’m all about saving time and dishes!

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1.5-2 cups broth, chicken, turkey, or whatever you like

In a small, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.

Add the flour and whisk until there are no lumps.  Continue to whisk until it is golden brown.

Slowly add the broth a little at a time while you are whisking.  Stop adding broth when your mixture is as thick as you want it to be.  If you have gravy to add, add it after you have finished adding your broth.

At this point, you can add all your veggies and meat and make your pot pie.