My brother and I eventually got married and moved out of the projects in Morrisania leaving my mother to make it on her own. We didn’t fall far from the tree though and set up house in the Bronx. Back then, one of my tumbleweed jobs was with the South Bronx Development Organization. SBDO was breathed life after Jimmy Carter signified the South Bronx as the epitome of urban decay in America. Charlotte Gardens was SBDO’s answer and the cluster of one family, 1 story ranch style houses became the new paradigm for housing in America: home ownership and low density.
While my wife and I were expecting our first child, we would have dinner on Sunday’s in the Webster Butler projects with mom. Mom liked potatoes and when she was very ambitious she would bake them. Most often, we had instant potatoes. My wife liked white rice so mom always made a small pot just for her. One Thanksgiving mom invited my brother and I and our small new families to dinner. I didn’t know how we’d all fit in her tiny 2 bedroom apartment but we shoe-horned. We showed up at 2pm for dinner only to discover mom had planned a complete convenience menu. It was a wonderful idea but mom’s execution in the kitchen was one murder at a time.
She had shopped the day before and there were plenty of Frito-Lay finger foods to snack on. They were quickly exhausted as mom cooked one convenience item after another. Mom had assembled all the ingredients but she hadn’t started cooking until that morning. She dutifully followed the recipe on the sweet potato can to make candied yams. Then it was on to the pasta box to make macaroni and cheese. She made cornbread following the simple add one egg and a cup of milk recipe. And the moment before we became completely ravenous she announced dinner would be ready soon as she had just put the turkey in the oven!
With Halloween heralding the approach of Thanksgiving, this week’s recipe is Cranberry-sauced Chicken. The cooking technique is different this week: we are baking not braising as we did last week for Chicken Cacciatore. This is a good way to introduce dry heat cooking before we bake or roast a whole chicken.
Because of the cranberry sauce, you might expect the chicken to be sweet but it’s really quite savory. Substitute other chicken parts; just adjust the cooking times accordingly.
3 tablespoons butter
4 large (roaster-size) skinless boneless chicken thighs
(1 1/3 to 1 1/2 pounds total weight) 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence or dried thyme Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion
1 can (8 ounces) jellied cranberry sauce
1 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 450
- Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a heavy medium oven proof skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken thighs with 2 teaspoon of the Herbs de Provence and salt and pepper. Place the thighs in the skillet and lightly brown on both sides, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake the thighs for 10 minutes, or until cooked through and the juices run clear, or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 160 to 165°F.
- While the chicken is baking, chop the onion.
- Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet. Add the onion and remaining 2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence and cook, stirring, until the onion is slightly softened, about 2 minutes.
- With a fork, partially break up the cranberry sauce. Add the cranberry sauce, chicken broth, and I to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar to the skillet. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, and simmer, stirring, until partially reduced, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken thighs to a serving platter and cover loosely to keep warm.
- Add the cranberry sauce mixture to the skillet used to cook the chicken, and stir to incorporate the juices and browned bits. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the cranberry sauce over the chicken. Place the platter on the table.
Single serving is 1 of total recipe: Calories 408; PROTEIN 30g; CARBS 24g; TOTAL FAT 21 g; SAT FAT 9g; CHOLESTEROL 131mg; SODIUM 420mg; FIBER 1g