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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Comfort Me with Apples

My kitchen is imploding.

All right, not really, but we're starting a long-delayed minor kitchen renovation.  Although I've now grown to (mostly) love my kitchen, we almost didn't buy the house two years ago when I saw it.  First there was what I like to call the Backsplash from Hell, which started at one end of the kitchen, looped around the refrigerator and went aaalll the way around to the other side.  I like the gray-green Corian for the countertop.  For the entire decor, not so much. 

I mean, really?  It's just odd.
there were the 1980s vanilla-colored appliances, especially the less-than-standard size refrigerator (also known as the Vegetable Killer, see more on that here).

And the lack of a good vent.  I could go on.

The renovation is going to happen in pieces, as our contractor is available, but it could make cooking interesting for a while. 

Well, in all reality it's been interesting since David karate-chopped the 1980s vanilla oven closed during his birthday party, damaging one of the door hinges and resulting in the door not closing all the way.  I wish I could say that when this happened, I ran in slow motion toward the oven and flung myself on top of it screaming "NOOOO!" at the top of my lungs, but that didn't happen.  I was on the other side of the room serving up smoked gouda and caramelized onion quesadillas when I heard the squeak-thud of the unhappy oven.

I wanted to make a good dinner before the kitchen became even partially unusable.  Yesterday I started looking for recipes for Rosh Hoshanah, which is next week.  It is the start of the Jewish high holidays and has several traditional foods, including apples and honey, to signify wishes for a sweet new year. 

This recipe incorporates apples into a main course, and has several virtues:  It's healthy!  It's hearty!  It takes a total of an hour and forty minutes, of which less than twenty are active time!  Joan Nathan, you doyenne of Jewish cooking, you know how to get a frazzled cook's heart a-flutter.

If you have the advantage of more time, I would recommend salting the chicken, covering it with plastic wrap and leaving it in the refrigerator overnight.  This draws out moisture from the skin and makes for a crispier chicken.

Rosh Hoshanah Chicken with Apples and Onions
Adapted from Quiches, Kugels and Couscous by Joan Nathan

1 3.5-4 lb. chicken
1 yellow onion, peeled
3 Fuji apples, cored and cut into 6-8 pieces each
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/3 cups dry white wine
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
Kosher salt
Fresh-ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Pat the chicken dry and season it lightly with kosher salt, fresh-ground pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Place it in a large baking pan--I put mine breast side down, so the white meat would stay in the marinade and not dry out during the long cooking process.

Cut the onion into large slivers and scatter it around the bottom of the pan.  Pour the chicken stock and wine on the onions and bake for 45 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, toss the apples (I prefer leaving the skin on, but you can peel them if you wish) with the tablespoon of sugar and remaining cinnamon.

At the 45-minute mark, remove the chicken from the oven and add the apples to the pan, spooning the broth-wine mixture over them.  If the apples still look a little dry, add another bit of broth.

Cook for another 45 minutes, or until done.  The thickest part of the breast should register 165 degrees on an oven thermometer.

Allow to sit, tented with foil, for a few minutes.  The pan juices are delicious, but you could turn them into a thicker gravy if desired.

Serves 4-6 as a main course.  Spoon the pan juices over the sliced meat and serve with a side of the apples and onions.

Food/wine pairing:  You're going to be tempted to pick a sweeter wine because of the apples.  Don't do it.  This dish hails from my mother's ancestral region of Alsace-Lorraine in France.  Either a bone-dry German riesling or a French or German Pinot Blanc would be perfect.


  1. I love roasted chicken made at home. It smells and tastes so good!! Yours look perfect. Good luck on the renovations!

  2. I hope that your renovations make your kitchen a more wonderful space to occupy. In the meantime though, you seem to be making some truly delightful dishes!

  3. Oh, I bet you'll love your revamped kitchen when it's finished...LOL at your backsplash. I'm sure it was very hip back in the day :). Your chicken looks fabulous...I'm so glad it's finally cool enough to turn on the dinner and make dishes like this!

  4. I am drooling. Good luck with the kitchen renovation!
    Thanks for the tip on salting the chicken. I am making one tomorrow and I am going to try that. Can't wait to try this dish. I actually may be changing my menu tomorrow based on this...Or making roasted chicken again very soon.

  5. Thanks for all the comments and well wishes for the renovation. The Backsplash from Hell was removed yesterday, and even with bare walls it looks better!

    I can also affirm that the chicken makes for great leftovers.

  6. The chicken looks delicious and I love your descriptive terms of your kitchen...I hope you keep us regularly updated with pics!

  7. We just finished a kitchen renovation that we did ourselves. We started this renovation on Valentine's Day weekend this year. Not counting the acquisition of new appliances and installation of a 1600 cfm vent through the roof (where none existed before) two years ago. It's a labor of love and worth every bit of agony. Good luck, and may your sanity survive the process!