When the temperatures begin a tumble, which doesn't happen nearly enough here in Texas, I bring out my Dutch oven. Is there another piece of equipment that so clearly speaks comfort? I think not.
A Dutch oven is a cast iron roaster, The high-end ones are pricey, Le Creuset being a leader. I purchased mine at World Market for a fraction of the price. If you don't have one, any roasting pan will suffice.
On the weekends, when time is no issue, the braise may begin early in the day. Aromas tease and tempt for hours until we gather. During the week, we need something a little faster. Something that takes less time to prepare.
I've recently discovered a weekday alternative to a Sunday Roast Chicken. All the love and half the time: chicken splits. Maybe I am late to the game on this, but with some quick prep in the morning, you won't be late getting dinner on the table. Chicken splits are just as the name indicates: a chicken split in half. One breast, one thigh, one leg, one wing. Cutting the roast in half does the same for the cook time.
Here's what I do:
1) Prep root vegetables. I use carrots, parsnips, potatoes. Sometimes turnips. A quick peel and chop.
2) Slice onion, shallot, leeks, whatever you have.
3) Herbs-dried or fresh. I use an Herbs de Provence blend which can be purchased in bulk as a mix and is great with poultry, If you don't have it, use what you do have: tarragon, thyme, sage, parsley, marjoram, rosemary, lavender.
4) Toss veg and onion with a dash of lemon oil (or olive) and herbs, salt, pepper. Place in Dutch oven.
5) Season chicken splits with herbs, salt and pepper, baste with a bit more oil.. Set on top of veggies.
That's it. Now, if you have these, great, if not, no sweat. But, a few preserved lemons on top of the chicken knocks it over the top. Or slice fresh lemon. that works too. You could do it with Italian herbs and add tomatoes, oregano and olives, whatever you have and are in the mood for. That's the beauty of it. Quick, creative, and comforting.
When you're ready to bake, do so at 350 for about an hour or until internal temperature reaches 165. That will vary depending on the size. I roast with the lid off to get a nice golden skin on the chicken.
What are your go-to mid-week recipes for comfort?