Mom makes a fall dinner
Honestly, you’d think that as many years as The Silver Palate’s New Basics Cookbook has sat on my cookbook shelf, by my reckoning going on twenty, I would have tried virtually every recipe in there that is worth trying, but in fact I’ve barely scratched the surface, let alone plumbed the depths or gone the distance. I’m not sure what happened and why I stopped trying new recipes from this book, but I think my fortunes took an upward turn and I started buying new cookbooks right and left, plus subscribing to Cook’s Illustrated and running myself ragged just trying to keep up with reading and cooking the occasional new recipe from the magazine. As a result there are lots of pages in my New Basics cookbook with no splatters or stains on them at all, including the page I happened on for tonight’s dinner. And it’s a shame, because almost everything I have tried from the Silver Palate books has been great.
Dinner tonight was a classic fall dish, Chicken with Sausage, Prunes, and Apples. The sauce is made from a combination of wine vinegar, chicken stock, and white wine, mixed with mustard added at the end of the cooking time, and was really tasty and rich, I think because the prunes kind of break down and just gave the juices a rich flavor and body. I served it with mashed potatoes, although noodles would also be good, along with green salad, and pumpkin pie for dessert. One drawback to cooking from an unfamiliar recipe, though, is that it always takes longer than something you’ve made many times, and my guests, who are used to walking in and sitting down to food on the table, arrived to find me frantically juggling whisks, mashers, salad spinners, bread knives, and my Chinese cleaver. (I forgot about the apples until the last minute but was determined to put them in!) Dinner was a few minutes late…
Chicken With Sausage, Prunes, and Apples
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 1 3-pound chicken, rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 8 pieces
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup pitted prunes, halved
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 large tart apples, cored, peeled, and diced
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole or dutch oven, and brown the sausage in batches over medium heat. Using slotted spoon, remove and set aside.
3. Brown the chicken pieces in the same casserole, in batches if necessary, until golden, and set aside with the sausage. Pour off most of fat. Add half of the vinegar to casserole and bring to boil over medium heat, scraping up brown bits. Then add stock, wine, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute.
4. Add the prunes and garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Then return the sausage and chicken to casserole, mix gently with the sauce, and cover. Transfer it to the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
5. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meats to a heated serving platter and keep warm. Add mustard and remaining vinegar to casserole and whisk well. Add apples and cook over medium low heat until apples are tender, 5-7 minutes. Spoon sauce over chicken, pouring extra sauce in sauceboat to pass at table, sprinkle platter with parsley, and serve.