Jan 20 to 23rd and Carole Is Inspired by Carrots

Jan 20  Stracciatella with meatballs and cheese tortellini
Jan 21  pasta with leftover chicken from the chicken saltimbocca, zucchini, eggplant and sage
Jan 22 dinner at a friend's house 
Jan 23 roast chicken thighs with coloured carrots, thai red rice

This past week was very, very cold and Little Shack was under the weather again and so I didn't have much time or opportunity for extensive food shopping. Because of this,  it was very much about using up what was already in the fridge. I did go to Supperworks on Wednesday, but I try not to resort to using their stuff when I really could whip up something with what I have on hand. Remember, one of my goals with this project is also less food waste and there will be plenty of panicky moments where my Supperworks stash will save the day. Luckily, I do have a decent little store a block away that sells all of the basics, decent quality produce and good bread so even when I can't make it to a big grocery store, I can always whip up something tasty.

The Jan 21 dinner used up the leftover chicken breast from our chicken saltimbocca and the zucchini and eggplant were the bits leftover from our quinoa salad last week. So far, I'm very proud of my efforts to not waste food and use up leftovers that I might have thrown out before (like the odds and ends from the quinoa salad that would have normally ended up in the compost).

Saturday night we had a great dinner at the house of good friends with amazing wine and a great time all around so that meal was taken care of. For Sunday's dinner, I based the meal around this selection of coloured carrots I found. I thought it would nice to roast the carrots with chicken thighs.  My favourite way to do this is to put the chunks of veggies on the bottom layer of my big cast iron skillet and then place the thighs on top of them. I love how the fat from chicken thighs drips down over the veggies and bastes them with their chickeny goodness and everything gets a really, dark, caramelized skin on the bottom layer that olive oil just doesn't produce.

How beautiful are these carrots???

I was in the mood for something with a bit of a slightly sweet, sticky coating so I basted the thighs with a bit of vinegar/honey/butter. Did I mention that the previous evening we had some really fabulous wines and some Patron tequila that you can't even buy but that our host received as a gift from a client? Well, that said, I wasn't exactly brimming with exuberance and energy Sunday afternoon and I also wanted something really simple and idiot proof that wouldn't require very much from me in the way of energy, dexterity or brain function.

cleary, the entire family felt the same way

This method of roasting chicken thighs is a huge fall back meal for us because we all love the crispy skin, the moist, dark meat and the caramelized veggies that lay beneath. I am going to have get creative as far as spicing, basting and the array of vegetables that I use if I want to keep my men happy over the next year (I usually just marinate the chicken in lots of lemon, garlic, kosher salt, greek oregano and olive oil). After reading tons of recipes for inspiration, I also decided to skip browning the skin first before putting it in the oven to save a bit of effort and time because nobody else seems to bother .

Mama's Lazy Sunday Roast Chicken Thighs
Serves 3 (add two more thighs to make it for four)

6 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on, trimmed of excess fat if needed
2 lbs of pretty rainbow coloured carrots (or any other combo of root vegetables)
bit of olive oil to coat the bottom of your roasting pan

for basting:
2 tbls honey
1 tbl butter
1 tsp fig balsamic vinegar

1 tbls olive oil
1 tbls grainy dijon mustard
1 tbls fig balsamic vinegar
1/2 tbls avocado oil (you could totally skip this but I have it so I wanted to use some)

salt and pepper the thighs

add the marinade and coat evenly on all sides

Let the chicken sit in the marinade as long as possible but I am sure it would fine even if it was just a matter of setting it aside as you prep the carrots.

Take your pretty rainbow coloured carrots and chop them into good sized chunk that will cook in the 40 minutes of roasting time. Too small and they will turn to little weird alien nuggets, too large and they will still be too hard by the time the chicken is done.

Preheat the oven to 400F
Put just a bit of olive oil in the bottom of your roasting pan. I just use a tiny bit and rub it around with a bit of paper towel because the chicken will provide enough delicious chicken fat once the meat starts to roast. Add the carrots in a single layer to cover the bottom of the pan and lay the chicken pieces on top of the carrots. Let them roast, undisturbed for the first 20 minutes. At that point, I start to drizzle the honey basting sauce over the chicken thighs until they are done, at about the 40 minute mark. The nice thing about dark meat is that they aren't going to dry out if you leave them in a little bit longer so the timing is not as crucial as it is when you are cooking breasts.

Check to make sure that they chicken is cooked through (clear juices only) and that the carrots are cooked through. Put the carrots and the chicken on a platter and tent loosely with foil.

Deglaze the pan with a glug of white wine, or some chicken stock or port or sherry. Scrape up all of those delicious bits and pieces of caramelized carrot and chicken fat and then add maybe 1/2 cup of chicken stock and let it come to a boil, simmer for a minute or two and serve this thin, tasty pan sauce with your chicken.

The only thing I would do differently is that I would brown the thighs, skin side down before putting them in the oven for roasting because I really need that skin to be as crispy as possible and I thought that roasting them at a high temp would be enough and I had to broil them for a few minutes afterwards.  Much easier to just sear them before roasting like I usually do.
Live and learn my friends.


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