Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chicken Rosé & Basil Smashed Potatoes

Rather than use this space to discuss the finer points of the flavors in this dish*, I'm going to use it to rant about my food annoyance du jour (because it's my blog, dammit): FROZEN MEALS.

I realize I'm probably preaching to the converted; if you're reading a cooking blog, you're probably not the type to throw a Lean Cuisine in the microwave and call it dinner. (Clearly, that logic isn't going to stop me.) My deep-seated loathing of frozen meals started at work. Day after day, I queue up outside one of our 2 office microwaves...and wait. And wait. And wait, while some of my illustrious coworkers heat their Healthy Choice ("healthy" choice) fettuccine alfredos ("fettucine alfredos") for upwards of 6 minutes per meal. SIX. MINUTES. When you're starving, have 15 minutes to eat between meetings, and have been thinking about your, say, leftover Chicken Rosé since 9:00 a.m., six minutes might as well be the Mesozoic Era.

I bet you thought I was going to rave about their staggering list of ingredients, their extreme over-processed-ness, and/or their general lack of nutrition. Nope. That all goes without saying. I have more faith in the American consumer (especially the fine folks of my ad agency) than to think that they actually believe that fettuccine alfredo created months ago, shuttled from warehouse to truck to warehouse to frozen food case, then reheated in a plastic container could be healthy, let alone truly satisfying. My biggest issue with those Lean Healthy Cuisine Choice meals is that they're masquerading as real meal in the first place: clocking in, on average, at around 250 calories, there is no way they could legitimately fill up an adult human being. And when you're not satisfied at lunch, the stale bagels from this morning's meeting start to not look so bad, after all.

You've probably stopped reading by now, but if you haven't - I salute you. And I apologize for surrounding these delicious looking photos with my blatant high horsery. In conclusion, I hope you make this for dinner tomorrow, and pack the leftovers for Thursday's lunch. And I really, really hope you don't get stuck behind a Stouffer's single-serve Mac 'n' Cheese.

*I couldn't completely ignore the dish at hand. This was mega delish! I named it Chicken Rosé because I used up some leftover red and white wine. If you're not a boozehound like me, feel free to pick one or the other, although I'd lean toward red to maintain the rich, coq au vin-esque flavors of the original. The sour cream was a downright naughty addition, but boy did it make for a silky, tangy sauce. The smashed potatoes offered a nice textural contrast and a pleasant brightness from the basil, although if you really wanted to knock someone's socks off, a traditionally made creamy, smooth mashed potato would be elegant and incredibly tasty. I hope you love it as much as I did!


1-2 T. olive oil
6-7 chicken drumsticks, skin removed
salt and pepper
3 T. butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 lg. container button mushrooms
1 lg. container baby bella mushrooms
~1/2 cup red wine
2-3 T. balsamic vinegar
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
handful chopped fresh parsley
~1/2 cup white wine
~1/2 cup chicken broth
~1/3 cup light sour cream

8-10 small, thin-skinned potatoes (like baby Yukon Gold)
2 T. butter
salt and pepper
~1/3 cup milk
~1/3 cup chicken broth
2 T. chopped fresh basil

frozen peas
salt and pepper

Heat a Dutch oven or big pot over medium high heat. Add the olive oil, and brown the chicken (in 2 batches if neccessary), seasoning with salt and pepper. Turn chicken and brown on the other side. Remove and set aside on a platter.

Reduce the heat a bit, add butter to the pan, let melt a bit, then add the onion and mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for a couple minutes. Then add the red wine and balsamic vinegar. Boil uncovered for about 10 minutes, until the mixture gets a little dry (the liquid should reduce by about half).

Return the chicken to the pot. Add all the rest of the chicken ingredients except the sour cream. The liquid should just barely cover the chicken (with maybe a few little pieces sticking above the liquid line). Cook on medium high (it should be boiling), uncovered, for about 15 minutes.

Once again remove the chicken from the liquid and set aside on a plate. Continue to cook the liquid until it's reduced by about half. Turn the heat down to medium and stir in the sour cream. Continue to cook until the mixture has thickened to a gravy-like consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings. Return the chicken to the pot, cover, and keep warm on low until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until very tender. Drain. Return the cooking pot to the burner, and reduce heat to low. Add butter to the pot and let melt a bit. Return potatoes to the pot while still very hot, and begin to smash with a masher or the back of a wooden spoon (you want a chunky consistency, not creamy smoothness). Add the basil, milk, chicken broth, and salt and pepper.

Cook your peas in a little water until hot. Drain, return to pot, and season. Scoop some smashed potatoes onto each plate and top with 2-3 chicken drumsticks as well as some mushroom "gravy." Serve peas alongside. Enjoy!

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