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chickencran

Last night was a fun night I’ll remember for a long time. My dear friend, Ethel, had a birthday during the week of Thanksgiving. I wanted to throw a dinner party in her honor to celebrate her wonderful self. Ethel is the kindest, sweetest, and most giving friend a woman could hope for. She would give you the shirt off her back. She only wants the best for everyone and definitely deserves nothing but the best for herself. We all love and appreciate Ethel so much and last night was the night we wanted to show her just how much. Most times, when my friends and I celebrate our birthdays, it’s just us girls. This time, however, we wanted to make it couples.

For Ethel’s birthday dinner, I decided to make a chicken dish. I wanted to make skin-on, bone-in chicken and racked my brain to come up with a recipe that I thought would be festive and taste fabulous. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. This is the first dinner party I’ve hosted since I started my blog and I wanted it to be really special and I wanted to make sure it turned out wonderfully. I can honestly say, my friends loved it!

This is what I did. I started with two packages of cut up chicken; 8 piece. I actually added two additional breasts and five thighs because as it would happen, one of the 8 piece packages of chicken I bought was made up of two breasts and six drumsticks … This actually put me in a bit of a dilemma. I had to run to the market as I was preparing to brown the chicken yesterday and why I added five thighs and two breasts.

So after running back to Vons, I came home and set my chicken out on a big platter so I could pat it dry with paper towels and sprinkle it with kosher salt and pepper. Once I did that, I set out two pans to start browning my chicken in. I had a lot of chicken and needed to do it in batches, so two pans were going to make it more efficient for me. I also separated the chicken into two slow cookers for cooking, so when I give you the ingredients for what I added to the pans for cooking, it is per slow cooker.

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Once all the chicken was browned on both sides, I sautéed garlic and shallots – I used three cloves of garlic and two shallots per slow cooker insert.

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After the garlic and shallots were translucent (about 1-1/2 minutes) I turned off the heat. I then added one bag of fresh cranberries to each slow cooker and topped that with 8 ounces of fresh dates that I had pitted and cut into quarters. Over the dates, I added one and a half lemons that I had quartered to the pan, before placing the chicken pieces on top.

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Once the chicken was nestled into place, I sprinkled 1 tablespoon each of fresh thyme and fresh rosemary on top of the chicken. Next, I added one and a half jars of simmering sauce that I found at my local grocer. (I chose the mushroom wine simmer sauce.) I then poured one and a quarter cups of white wine and a quarter cup of dijon mustard into the slow cooker. I set the slow cooker to cook on high and walked away.

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I think my friends really enjoyed this dish … or so they tell me. My friend, Marie, said she loved all the flavors and loved that none of them were overpowering the other. That was the perfect compliment to me. Thank you, Marie!

As my sides, I made parmesan mashed potatoes and sautéed green beans. My friend, Marie, brought the best salad any of us have ever had. She makes a wonderful salad with roasted sweet potatoes and some other goodies, it is amazing! My sweet friend, JoAnne brought a couple appetizers that were so good! One was a mushroom crostini … oh my goodness, it was amazing! Both Marie and JoAnne are amazing cooks, I’ve learned so much from both of them.

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I peeled, cut up and boiled five pounds of russet potatoes. Once they were tender, I drained them and added 8 ounces of heavy cream and 4 tablespoons of butter before whipping them with my hand mixer. I learned something new from my Aunt Sheila this Thanksgiving while we were cooking. She mentioned that you should never put cold into hot and taught me to slightly heat my cream (or milk if that’s what you prefer for your potatoes) and melt my butter before adding them to the potatoes. I did this last night and gave my aunt a thought and a big thank you for that lesson learned. Once I whipped the potatoes, I added a half cup of grated parmesan and mixed them some more. I added a few thyme leaves to the potatoes and garnished them with a couple sprigs of fresh thyme. Ina always says put a little of what’s inside a dish on top so people know what’s in the ingredients. Thank you, Ina … another lesson I gave thanks for last night. As far as my beans, I just sautéed them in a little water and olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Simple, yet elegant enough.

Once the chicken was done, I put it in a platter, pouring the sauce over the top, along with the cranberries, dates and lemons. The lemons came out so tender, you could have eaten them, skin and all. I put a little of the sauce into a gravy boat for my guests to add to their chicken and mashed potatoes if they’d like.

Here’s a few pictures of our fun night. I hope you enjoy!

party3Here’s our birthday girl, Ethel, enjoying the dessert that our dear friend, Azita brought. Everyone loves bundtini’s from Nothing Bundt Cakes and that is just what she brought for Ethel’s dessert. They were amazing, as always.

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Our birthday girl with her handsome husband, Pedro. I love this picture of them, they look so happy. Ethel, you need to have this picture framed!

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My sweet friends. I love them all! From left, me, Ethel, Marie, JoAnne and Azita. We’ve known each other and been friends since our kids were in elementary school, kindergarten to be exact.

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I can’t believe all our kids will be heading off to college in the fall. We’ve been friends for many years and will be for a lifetime. Life is good. We are so lucky to have each other.

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It seems they were just 3 feet tall yesterday. Now, they are seniors in high school and Kiana (Azita’s daughter) is turning 18 tomorrow … say it isn’t so! First, I want to say we are missing one of the kids from this picture. Christian (JoAnne and Jack’s son) had a prior commitment. He was definitely missed. From left … Tommy (Marie and Norris’ son), Amanda (Ethel and Pedro’s daughter), Kiana (Azita and Mo’s daughter) and Kylie … she’s ours (Dennis’ and mine). She actually started her first job today! Dennis and I couldn’t be more proud. She was excited to tell us all about her day. She wanted to call her Grandma Edie to tell her all about her day as soon as she got home. She’s been asleep on the couch since, she’s beat. Welcome to the real world, Kylie!

Ingredients for One 8 Piece Chicken (Note: As I’m talking about the dish as I made it last night, I had to double … for just one 8 piece chicken, follow the ingredients below.)

  • Skin-on, Bone-in Chicken, 8 Piece
  • 1 bag fresh cranberries
  • 8 ounces fresh dates, pitted and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 1-1/2 lemons, quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1-1/4 cups white wine
  • 1-1/2 16 ounce bottles of simmer sauce, of your choosing
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • kosher salt
  • pepper

Directions

Melt olive oil and butter in slow cooker insert over cooktop. (If you don’t have a slow cooker that has an insert you can start out on the cooktop with, use a dutch oven to brown your chicken.)

While olive oil and butter are melting and heating up, pat chicken pieces dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with kosher salt … about 1/4 teaspoon per piece of chicken, depending on the size of your chicken pieces. Sprinkle pepper over chicken as well. Once oil and butter are melted and hot, start browning chicken, both sides. Do this in batches, so you don’t crowd the chicken. Once you are done browning all your chicken, set it aside. (I had more oil left in the pan than I wanted for the garlic and shallots, so I poured all but a very small amount out of the pan.) Sauté garlic and shallots in the same pan you browned the chicken in.

Lay the cranberries over the garlic and shallots on the bottom of the slow cooker. Add dates and quartered lemons. Place chicken pieces into the slow cooker, covering with thyme and rosemary. Whisk dijon mustard together with wine and pour into the pan, along with the simmer sauce. Place lid on slow cooker and set to high if you only have four hours to cook, or if you have all day, and start the process in the morning, set to low.

Enjoy!

Until next time, Kris