Thursday, November 17, 2011

What's For Dinner? Chicken, Asparagus, Coleslaw....Really?

Chicken, cole slaw, asparagus...ingredients for dinner
Food shopping near a Food Holiday is a tricky venture; not only are you getting what you need for the festivities, you have to remember about the "regular" days as well.

I do my best...don't we all?!
But there's bound to be a bit of menu strangeness when juggling like that.

Tonight's menu is a pretty good example.  I've been concentrating on apples a lot lately; Jack's sister gave us a bunch from her wonderful apple tree, so I was knee deep in pies, breads, apple sauce cakes and so on.   This morning when I looked up at the clock it was 11 a.m.; when Jack came down to the kitchen and asked "What's for dinner?"  I noticed the time....4:35 p.m.

Hmmmmm. "Chicken," I replied, then looked in the fridge.  Fortunately I'd remembered to defrost the chicken.  "It won't take long."  Jack smiled, grabbed a glass of water then left me to the task at hand.

I'd been in the process of chopping apples when Jack asked that fateful question.  So I decided to use them in the meal.   A second cruise of the refrigerator secured the ingredients for the meal; the aforementioned chicken, a bag of pre-shredded cabbage and carrots (a/k/a a "cole slaw kit"), some asparagus, an onion, some orange juice....didn't sound like things I could combine into one dish.  So I opted for separates.

I rinsed the chicken then patted it dry.  Lucky for me it was a pack of skinless, boneless thighs...lots less work! Thank heavens for sales!   After that, I sprinkled a little low salt, pepper, dried onions and garlic powder on both sides of the chicken and placed it in a bowl.  Then I poured some orange juice over it and covered the bowl.  This sat for about fifteen minutes while I prepared the rest of the meal.

The asparagus was a no-brainer.  Hot water, steamer, seven minutes....done!
Jack likes his asparagus with a side of mayo, so I didn't have to make a fancy sauce or anything. Yay!

Waldorf Coleslaw - slaw with walnuts
Cole slaw?  Been there, done that.   But I wanted something a little more interesting, so I found some walnuts, chopped 'em up and added them, along with the chopped apples and raisins...kind of a Waldorf Cole Slaw.
It's always better to make your slaw ahead time and let the flavors mingle and mature.  Best scenario is the day before service, but 45 minutes will do in a pinch.  So that's what I did.

Chicken in the pan
Then it was time to take on the chicken. I drained the meat and let it sit on a wire rack then put some heat under a cast iron skillet, chopped then added onion and garlic.  After the onions started going transparent, I added the chicken and browned it for five minutes on each side.  After browning, I poured the orange juice over the chicken, covered and cooked it for an additional 3 minutes per side then removed the chicken to a plate while making a pan reduction.

Reductions really make the flavor happen!   It takes a little time, but is well worth the effort!

Once the juice is reduced, add the chicken to the pan and coat each piece with the reduction.  I drained the asparagus, put it in with the chicken, mixed everything around a little  then put the skillet with everything in it in the oven (at 350 degrees) for about 10 minutes more.  Then it was time for plating and service.

Orange chicken w/cranberry sauce, asparagus and slaw
And you know what?  It was pretty good!  The flavors seemed to compliment each other, even the slaw. Jack thought I'd been planning the meal all day.  And in a sense he was right....after all I did defrost the chicken!

So feel free to try this idea, feel free to share your recipes and ideas too! I look forward to hearing from you!

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