Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The endless warmth

It's a funny autumn season this year. It's not actually summer-like, and October was perfectly miserable, but the weather feels like it is never going to break. It looks like autumn. The sun is at that autumn angle that makes everything still and golden. Sunset comes at the correct time, and the leaves all turned, and fell.

But the gentle air goes on and on, not really warm, but zephyrous. There hasn't been a day yet where the sun is bright and painful, the winter sun that hits like a shard of glass, or the frozen crystal in your eye that enslaves you to the ice queen.

So for a fall day in this year's endless wait between equinox and solstice, a one-pan autumn meal.

Autumn pan chicken

One cut-up chicken
3-4 pats of butter
2 T flour
one medium onion, sliced
fall vegetables (I used carrots, potatoes, turnips, but you could also do this with squash or pumpkin)
dried sage
2 cups apple cider
black pepper

Melt 2-3 pats of butter in a large saucepan. Heat the cider just short of boiling (about 5 minutes at 80% in the microwave.) Saute the chicken on both sides (to keep the skin from pulling off, wait for it to "release," meaning, when it's properly cooked on the first side, it will be easy to turn. If it resists and sticks to the pan, just wait until it wants to turn). Add the onions and vegetables and saute about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the butter, plus the sage, salt and pepper. When the butter is melted, dredge with flour, turning the chicken a couple of times. Add half the cider and reduce until it barely covers the bottom of the pan, scraping up the brownings. Add the rest of the cider, turn to a light simmer and cover for about 15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Serve with noodles or rice and a fall vegetable like broccoli or brussels sprouts.

Please buy your chicken from a butcher or mercado, not from the chain stores, where it will have been chilled to 33F/1C meaning it will be tough and tasteless.

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