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I mentioned Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, in last week’s post (though I forgot to mention that I always ALWAYS make rugelach on this special day!). For those of you unfamiliar with Jewish holidays, I thought I’d provide a bit more insight. Rosh Hashana is followed 10 days later by Yom Kippor, or the day to atone for the sins of the past year. After an evening meal, observant Jews fast from sundown the evening prior to this holiday until the following nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur — about 25 hours. This year (2012) Yom Kippur begins on Tuesday evening, September 25.
We always prepare comfort type food for the meal before the fast – nothing spicy, overly fatty, rich or difficult to digest. For several years, Chicken Thighs with Vegetables has been my “before the fast” main course – it comes together quickly and it’s basically one-pot cooking. Using chicken thigh meat is the key as it never dries out with stovetop braising. But the best part is the honey … coupled with the fresh, natural flavors of carrots and parsnips, it seems like the perfect element to bring some sweetness of the New Year (Rosh Hashana) into this traditionally solemn holiday.
As an aside, I often make this if I deliver a meal to friends or family in need of nourishment and it is a recipe I make upon request for my adult children when visiting them. When you tackle this simple main dish, you’ll discover that the aroma emanating from the kitchen is other-worldly. Try it, you’ll love it.
Chicken Thighs with Vegetables
- 3 lbs chicken thighs with skin and bone left on(extra fat removed)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp sea salt
- ½ Tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 10 grinds of fresh ground black pepper
- 1 large yellow pepper, seeds removed and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 6 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces (I don’t peel them if organic)
- 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ½ cup water
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish
Dry chicken thighs thoroughly with paper towels. On a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper, combine spices, salt and pepper and mix well. Press spices into the skin side of the chicken by rolling the pieces skin side down into this mix. Keep the extra spice mix for when you cook the vegetables.
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Place chicken thighs skin side down (the side with the spice rub) and brown chicken for eight minutes. The cooked side should turn a beautiful, reddish brown color. Turn thighs over for another four minutes. If the thighs are large this might have to be done in two batches unless you have a giant skillet like mine.
Using kitchen tongs, remove chicken thighs to a dish with a bit of a lip so the juices can collect as the chicken rests. Pour off all but two tablespoons of rendered chicken fat.
Add the vegetables to the same pan. Sprinkle with any leftover spice/salt mixture you have. Cook the vegetables over medium heat, and stir occasionally for about 10 minutes.
Place the browned thighs and their juices back into the pan and gently cover with some of the vegetables. Add in the liquid, bring to a simmer and cover with a lid. Continue to simmer for another 20-30 minutes until the vegetables and chicken are cooked thoroughly, gently basting the chicken twice during this time. Before serving, put in a shallow bowl and garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley. Pass any remaining juices to pour on top of the chicken or side dish.
Notes: I sometimes use boneless skinless chicken thighs if I am in a hurry. This takes a lot less time for the meat to cook. The method is the same but after removing the thighs I sauté the vegetables for longer, say 15 minutes. Then I add the thighs and only need to cook it another five minutes or so.
I always serve this accompanied by brown rice, barley or quinoa so the pan juices aren’t swimming all over the plate. Adding broccolini, sautéed cherry tomatoes or tomato slices drizzled with olive oil makes the plate look colorful and appealing.
I have doubled it and then cooked the vegetable/chicken combo in a large Dutch oven if I am serving this for company.
And finally, every single man, woman and child who tastes this LOVES it.