Last night was the first thunderstorm of the year here. It was spring in all its glory: downpour, lightning, thunder, leaky roof, even hail. Before that friends came over and we shared chicken, rice, potatoes, parsnips, fruit, mango popsicles and stories (and maybe a few yoga poses) with Dark Was the Night playing in the background. I finally braised chicken according to Molly Stevens instructions. Four hours passed with barely a blink.here's their blog, including amazing photography from her friend Ryan). They take turns cooking for each other, so everyone only has to take time and money out to once a week. My sister once made broccoli, by choice. Unbelievable considering our aversion to it as children.
The apple-cider braised chicken, recipe below, it did take a while. About two hours start to finish, though the last hour the chicken baking (er, braising, which Adam says means that it cooks with juices in a tightly-lidded pot) and me finishing Night by Elie Weisel and then napping on the couch. Now that I've learned about browning meat before baking it all the way, things are crispier on the outside and juicier on the inside. That apple cider did quite a number on the parsnips, making them ever-so-slightly sweet and of a perfect balence between over- and underdone (so just right).
Gotta love the self-timer function.
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 strips bacon
1 pound bone-in, skin-on chicken
3 spring onions plus 1 leek
2 1/2 cup hard apple cider
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 pound parsnips
Preheat oven to 325.
Heat olive oil in a large pot. Cook bacon in oil until its crispy. Remove and set aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the leftover oil for browning the chicken.
Rinse and pat (completely) dry the chicken. Smear with salt and pepper. Set the chicken skin-side down in the hot oil (I only cooked two pieces at a time). Let sear for a few minutes, turn once the skin has browned and crisped a bit. Brown all the sides and then remove the chicken and set aside.
Chop the onions and leeks. Peel and core the parsnips, removing their woody centers, and then julienne into matchstick pieces. Saute the onions and leeks in the oil leftover from the bacon and the chicken, taking care not to burn the onions. Once they're slightly browned, pour in 2 cups of the hard cider (I used Woodchuck). Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Bring cider to a boil and let the volume reduce to about 1/2 cup. Add the rosemary at this point, along with the remaining 1/2 cup of cider. Reduce the volume of the cider again to a generous 3/4 cup. Turn off the heat on the stovetop.
Arrange the parsnips on the bottom of the pot (they don't all have to touch the bottom). Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the bacon over the parsnips. Arrange the chicken skin-side down on top of the parsnips. Cover with aluminum foil and parchment paper that is nearly touching the chicken and drapes over the side of the pot (or if you don't have a fire-proof pot, transfer to a baking sheet or casserole). Lid it. Place it in the oven and cook for 25 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven, turn the chicken and bake it again for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the chicken has cooked through.
To serve, arrange chicken on a serving platter. Check to see if the parsnips are cooked through, if not, you can simmer them on the stovetop for a few minutes. Then the sauce slightly if necessary. It should be thicker than water but not thick enought to coat a spoon.