As I was walking through my local Whole Foods the other day, I marveled at all the amazing food and how really beautiful the produce section of a good grocery store can be. From the beautiful Fennel fronds, to the orange carrots, yellow bananas, purple blueberries, and red cherries and tomatoes, you can truly find some amazing variety in nature. Of course, my perusing of the produce section was more time waster than deep reflection. How often does a working mom get to be alone, at her own pace, and just wander?
Obviously not often if my gold standard is wandering through the produce section unmolested by cries of “I want!” So, I had to snap out of my blissful haze before I lost any more time. Honestly, I think the samples must be filled with magical lotus leaves. I lose all kind of time there and I can’t really tell you that I was doing anything particular.
I was there to get dinner. It doesn’t make itself, you know. I walked past the fish and meat counter and nothing really jumped out. Then, in one of the open refrigerators a small sign: chicken legs, $.69/pound. Really?!? Chicken rated a 2 on the animal welfare scale for less than a buck a pound? Sure, it was just chicken legs, but who can beat that deal? I picked up a super sized package and went on my way. What would I do with a whole bunch of chicken legs?
Sure, I could fry them, but I did that already. Coq Au Vin? Done. I’m not stripping the meat off of them for gumbo. So, I did what any respectable blogger would do, I googled “chicken legs”. And there, in my search result was a recipe from Goop, a website run by Gwyneth Paltrow. At this point, I must confess to a guilty pleasure of reading gossip sites. These sites generally don’t like Gwyneth Paltrow. In fact, they love pointing out that she’s fairly unaware that “peasants” don’t live like her. We don’t cleanse, have a nanny (or two), aren’t married to a rock star, can’t choose which city to live in this week (London or NYC, so hard, right?), and don’t spend $458,000 on a “Spring Essentials collection” of clothes for just this Spring. To paraphrase from the many Goop-haters, when you are born on third base, don’t think you hit a triple in life or that scoring a run is hard from that beginning position. An example of her being “out of touch” (if the Spring Essentials didn’t drive that point home) may be the $950 silver shot cup that is part, just part, of her barware. So, as a working mom who’s clearly not in the 1% scrambling to make dinner with cheap chicken legs on a busy weeknight, it was with great trepidation I clicked on the Goop link http://www.goop.com/journal/make/215/one-pan-meals.
Ultimately, I’m very glad I took a chance with this recipe. It’s really quite good and so ridiculously simple. This is based on a traditional Greek dish called Kapama. However, it is a bit of a shocking recipe. Cinnamon, chicken, tomatoes and garlic. In one pot. One of my sorority sisters has a website called http://thefamilymealproject.com/ that examines what meals her kids would eat. Well, I felt this would be a perfect recipe for that experiment. As the house filled with the scent of cinnamon and tomato, I started to fret a bit. It was a wonderful smell, just not something you expect. You know, for dinner. However, I received nothing but absolute praise from both my son and daughter. My very picky, I only eat salmon daughter actually ate this. I know, shocking. The hubs gave his equivalent of a rave review: I’d ask you to make it again. Sigh. Small victory, I will take thee!!
Cinnamon Braised Chicken Legs
6-8 Chicken Legs (what will fit in your dutch oven, and you can use any chicken parts you have handy)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 15 ounce cans of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water or chicken stock
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup romano cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rinse and pat dry the chicken legs, set aside. Combine cinnamon, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle cinnamon mixture over the chicken liberally.
Heat the oil in a dutch oven (I used my trusty 5 quart) over medium high heat. Brown the chicken, in batches. About a minute or so on each side. Remove from pan and set aside. Reduce heat to medium. To the pan, add the onions and cook while stirring until translucent. Add the garlic and soften. Add the tomatoes and the water and deglaze the pan. Add the cinnamon stick and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan. Cover and place in the oven and cook for one to two hours until cooked through or all the way to “fall off the bone”. Serve with pasta or rice and sprinkle with cheese before serving.
Note: I only cooked this in the oven for an hour. “Fall off the bone” would have taken too much time for a weeknight meal. In the hour it was cooking, I made brown rice, a salad and checked homework. Two hours and we would have been eating well after the kids’ bedtime. So, it might be even better with more time!