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chicken

"IKEA" Braised Chicken Casserole

I did not really plan this post right after that

nordic last one

. It just happened that I went to IKEA last weekend. And, this is the perfect dinner to make while assembling furniture.

I have a confession to make. I really like IKEA. Actually, not the store, just the stuff. Oh yes, I know the furniture is not the real thing. I am not a fan of the bleached wood patterns. I know they are not sturdy and you get what you pay for. I know it is cheap and that is the main thing for many people and sometimes, functional and cheap is all you are looking for, like I did this time {Work table for $49 and assembled in 5 minutes! Beat that!}. Oh and the worst, the damn lines are snaking no matter what time of day or day of week you go. There is simply no gaming that system.

IKEA Brooklyn
The Coffee Lab, Bayridge

Coffee Lab, Bayridge, Brooklyn

Having said that, what I LOVE about IKEA stuff is how independent and strong it makes me feel. In short, DIY, in the most masculine of worlds; wood, furniture, power tools. It gives me a heady thrill. Ok, I don't have drills. I have to depend on my skinny forearm power for put things together. But, the rivulet of sweat that runs down my face as I put my weight into tightening the screws is a fabulous high. I love putting together stuff. IKEA gives even tiny people like me the stilts of being bigger and stronger, because they make it light, efficient and simple. Oh right, when you are on a budget or constantly moving, it is a great affordable alternative. Also, from experience I know IKEA stuff lasts longer than Walmart and BedBathandBeyond products but less than Crate and Barrel or West Elm ones.

So, that is why, despite the annoyance of navigating the store, I actually look forward to it. I am tired and worn out by the time check out is done but immediately after I perk up in anticipation of putting the piece together. I will even happily glad handle awkward pieces up four flights of stairs because I want to get cracking on it asap.

It was however dinner time by the time I got back. So, I of course, had to deal with a soon to be rumbling belly before my hedonistic and validation seeking mind could be served. Now, it had to be something that does not involve active stove engagement, obviously. Casserole, it was to be then. In the oven. Chicken hinds browned crisp in rendered pancetta topped with shredded cabbage, onion, fresh sweet corn went into a cast iron dutch oven. Topped with mustard, white wine, chicken stock and finally some homemade Apple-rosemary chutney, it bubbled away serenely for about an hour and half while I set up putting together the office/studio area, rearranged a bit of this and that around the house.

I was just about done in that time and I was ready and ravenous to dig into a succulent leg of slow cooked chicken sitting atop a generous serving of cabbage and onion braised in the juices of the dish rendered tender but still with a bite. It was perfect. I had earned it. And, it took me about 10 minutes of effort in all. I browned the chicken while prepping the vegetables and so they all came together at the same time. Brilliant I think.

This would be a fantastic meal for a crowd too or even with pork shoulder or leg of lamb. You will have to cook these meats longer but the flavors are surreal. And, because of the circumstance, I think this shall forever be called the

IKEA

Braised Chicken Casserole

;-)

One Year Ago:

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

Two Years Ago:

Saffron Aioli

Three Years Ago: Not much to say, apparently

Four Years Ago:

Filipino Chorizo Croquetas

Related post:

Quick Adobo Chicken

Quick Chipotle Chicken

Find the recipe in the Summer Issue of NOURISHED Magazine. Use links on sidebar to access.

"IKEA" Braised Chicken Casserole

{Note: If you linger over anything in this recipe, take the time to nicely brown the chicken skin. Because it is a slow cooking recipe, if you don't crisp the chicken skin first it becomes rather uninspiring to eat in the end.}

3 small chicken hinds (thigh + drumstick), with skin and bone

2 T pancetta

1/2 head of small cabbage, shredded

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

a carrot or two, sliced

1 ear of fresh sweet corn, kernels removed

4 T of Dijon mustard

3 T of grainy sweet mustard

1/3 -1/2 cup of apple chutney or other preserved fruit

half bottle of white wine

1/2 cup stock

salt, pepper and oil as needed

Preheat oven to 400F.

Over medium heat, render the pancetta till crisped in a dutch oven. Rub salt, pepper and little dijon all over the chicken. Add the seasoned chicken parts, skin side down. Turn the heat up and let it sit for 3-4 minutes until nicely browned. Turn the protein to brown on the other side as well.

Remove from heat. Lifting each piece, distribute half of the shredded vegetables under the chicken and the remaining on top. Season with salt and pepper. Distribute the mustard around the top. Pour over the wine and stock.

Cover and braise in the oven for atleast an hour and recommend for hour and half.

Raise the temperature to 450F. Remove the cover and continue roasting for 15 minutes.

Rest for a few minutes and serve. You can also top with sour cream if desired.

POM-tastic Koresht - e -Fesenjan!

Recently, I was sent a case of POM Wonderful juice by the company to taste and test recipes. As soon as I was told I was getting the product, I started dreaming up things to make with it. And, the first thing that popped into my head was Fesenjan, the rich Iranian special occasion dish made with pomegranate molasses and walnuts.

There used to be a lovely Iranian restaurant in Bangalore, named Sufi (now closed) that served Fesenjan on special orders. You had to call in a day ahead and let them know if you wanted to order it. No, no, it does not take that long to make but the flavors in the dish develop and mature the longer it sits and overnight is the minimum recommended. All these elaborate arrangements coupled with the fact that it is a dish reserved for occasions, in Iran, just drew the mystic aura around it and I wanted to recreate that at home. :)

Now, I love pomegranates. I remember my mother lovingly peeling the rind and cartilage off the fruit for her dearest daughter (that's Me..). Interestingly, this is one of those things that is also very good for you (what a lucky coincidence!). It is full of antioxidants and is beneficial to cardio-vascular health. You can read more about the health benefits of POM Wonderful juice here.

So, back to the Fesenjan. It really is a very simple dish getting it's flavors primarily from the ground walnuts and pomegranate reduction. The toasted walnuts are slightly bitter and the pomegranate is sweet and tangy at the same time. As the pomegranate juice reduces, the sweetness gets enhanced. The resulting gravy is rich, deep and yet subtle in flavor. I made it with chicken as it is traditionally made. You can also use lamb or beef.

Yes, I get the irony. Fesenjan is not a heart friendly dish but I do think it showcases the pomegranate very well indeed! :)

For more recipes using POM, please check out their website.

Koresht - e - Fesenjan

**
Fesenjan tastes better the longer it sits, atleast overnight. So, try to be patient and plan ahead.
It is important to cook the sauce until the oil renders from the nuts.
**

1-1/2 lbs chicken bone-in thigh and leg meat
1 large onion, sliced thin
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 lb walnuts, toasted and ground
3-1/2 cups POM wonderful pomegranate juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1-2 T sugar (depending on taste and sweetness of juice)
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
2 T lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
3 T olive oil

Brown chicken pieces in a heavy bottomed pan in 2 tablespoons of oil. Remove and reserve. Add some more oil and saute onions until soft. Add the garlic and saute for a few more minutes. Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg and fry for a minute.

Mix in the walnut paste into the onion mixture. Add the browned chicken pieces and toss to coat with the walnut and onion mixture. Stir in the pomegranate juice. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for atleast an hour until the sauce is thickened, the walnuts release their oil and the sauce has reduced to about half the original volume.

Stir in lemon juice and sugar according to taste. Adjust seasoning if needed. Continue cooking for a 20 more minutes. A minute or two before taking off the heat, mix in the ground cardamom.

Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight. Next day, if the sauce is too thick, stir in 1/2 cup of warm water and bring to boil. Serve over hot white rice, garnished with walnuts. I would have sprinkled some fresh pomegranate as well, but I did not have any on hand.
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