Sunday, January 16, 2011

Project 6: Roast Chicken with Pears

This recipe came right to my inbox one day, courtesy of SC Johnson's Right @ Home.  The combination of chicken and pears was entirely too intriguing to ignore, so I tucked the recipe into my purse for later. (See?  New Years resolutions at work!)  I ran it by KP, and then yesterday at the grocery, we picked up the ingredients.
What the heck are these things?

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  Did you look at the recipe?  Turnips?  Parsnips?  I don't even know what those look like, let alone what they taste like or how to prepare them for cooking.  I know what a pear looks like, and what it tastes like in a fruit cup, but I've never bought a fresh one before.  (I admit, I almost bought a can of pears to cheat.)  This could turn out totally tasty, or it could go down in history as the single worst thing I have ever made so far (it was definitely going to be the most involved recipe I had ever attempted).  We bought a frozen pizza just in case.

So last night I did some research.  Parsnips seem to get prepared almost identically to carrots (which makes sense, as they look, smell, and taste similarly), so that I can handle.  Turnips get peeled and then chopped sort of like an onion.  Pears, it seems have a core that needs removed, but you can do it with a melon-baller.  I expect a teaspoon will work just as well.  I think I can do this. 

So today I got started, and threw half a cup-ish of cranberries into a bowl of hot water to rehydrate.  The recipe said ten minutes, but I just let them sit till I was done chopping up my veggies.  The parsnips were peeled and chopped, followed by the turnip, and then the red onion.  KP helped cut the top and bottom off of the turnip (since they aren't as wide as onions, there wasn't much to hold on to while you cut), but I managed everything else all by myself.  Everything went into a bowl, followed by the drained cranberries, and the wet ingredients.  (We used thyme to season, because KP says rosemary has a minty note to it, and he doesn't do mint.  It worked excellently.) I used my hands to mix everything up, and then everything got scooped into a baking dish, to go into the oven for 6-7 minutes. 

I did get KP's help with the chicken.  I figured I would make less of a mess if I had four hands instead of two. :)  The same seasonings that went on the veggies went in the bag, plus the chicken, and then you shake.  If you can make shake-and-bake, you can do this.  The chicken goes on top of the veggies in the baking dish, and everything goes back into the oven.

But wait, I hear you say, what happened to the pears?  Weren't there pears in this recipe?  Well, yes!  While everything was in the oven, I chopped up the pears (a teaspoon worked perfectly, and I used a small knife to cut out the stringy part in the middle), and after the chicken had been in the oven for half-an-hour, the pears went in.  Everything cooked for another five minutes, and that gave me just enough time to make a can of green beans (look, I cannot possibly make all this and real green beans).

The finished product looked absolutely fantastic.  It smelled yummy, and I crossed my fingers and hoped it tasted as good as it looked/smelled.

It did.  Oh my god did it ever.  The chicken was moist and had a great flavor, and the veggies had a wonderful sweetness that balanced out the balsamic vinagarette (you could really smell the vinegar, but while KP says it had a great vinegarette flavor it wasn't strong enough to turn my tastebuds off), and the veggies weren't mushy or burnt.  (I imagine it could be really easy to overcook this if you weren't careful.)

Overall, we give it an A++.

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