JULY 12, 2018

Weeknight Cooking: Glazed Chicken with Dried Fruit and Parsnips

The end product of this fairly easy recipe is the most wonderfully textured chicken dish I have yet made.  For a couple of years now, I have tried to figure out the fine art of roasting chicken.  For the most part, simple chicken roasting comes down to buying a good batch of chicken thighs and considering using whatever fresh vegetables you might have on hand.  Almost anything will do: carrots, celery, potatoes, onions, toss in some peas, other roots vegetables, whatever.  For classic roasting I chop up the veg and let them roast on their own in some olive oil at something like 425 in the oven to soften while I brown the thighs in the skillet.  Place the thighs in with the vegetables, place in the oven, and wait for it all to cook and you have one of the great stand-byes possible.

The glazed chicken had some real similarities, but in this case it was the fruit that made all the difference and turned what tends to be a more crisp meal into one that is nearly creamy.  The recipe starts with a sauté of shallots and four diced parsnips, softened and browned but not yet fully cooked.  For cooks new to parsnips, think zingy potatoes, to the point that the root vegetables take on entirely new meaning (may be my own favorite vegetable).

On the side, meanwhile, whisk together good apricot preserves, some whole grain mustard, a pinch of ginger and cumin in a bowl, then essentially dredge your salted chicken pieces (thighs and half breasts) in the apricot glaze.  Eventually, it is the potent zing of the mustard up against the softness of the fruits that makes this a special roast.  At this point, scatter cut dried apricots and cut dried prunes into the skillet with the parsnips and shallots; place the chicken on top along with a bit of water until it boils and cooks for six minutes.  Place this full skillet in a 425 oven for around 25 minutes.

This is one of those kitchen recipes that fill the house with an aroma that is both hard to pin down yet succulent.  Is it the sweet of the apricot, the root of the parsnip, the grain of the mustard, or the skin of the chicken that you smell at minute twenty of roasting in the oven?  The bottom layer in the pan is a sort of cooked jam, the chicken pieces blistered brown from the oven.  Spoon up parsnips over the chicken. Serve with rice, a good bread, on a crepe?