Day 267: Applesauce Chicken, Buttermilk Smashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions and Honey-Balsamic Beets
I do believe I have achieved one of the most visually unappealing meals possible – the fleshy colour and mushy texture of both chicken and smashed potatoes did not make this an easy photo.
I was all set to make French onion soup tonight, to justify my 25 cent purchase of two soup bowls circa 1972 at a garage sale last summer, when I got a call just after noon to see if I was available to go do traffic on the Homestretch. My first reaction: what can I put in the slow cooker that will be done in 6 hours? And can any of it come from the freezer?
I remembered something I saw on S’s blog recently – chicken cooked in applesauce - and considering my plethora of apples, mushy apples, applesauce and other apple products, it seemed fitting. Plus our nice, non-carnivorous neighbours brought over a box of frozen chicken breasts they got as a freebie-with-purchase last week at Superstore. It seemed like good three-year-old food: chicken with applesauce. I wondered if I had any rhubarb in the freezer too, thinking it would go well with the chicken and apples and would make it a little more than just chicken cooked in applesauce, and I came up with a freezerbagful of pureed rhubarb that I had stashed away for a night of rhubarb bellinis that never happened.
So I put four frozen chicken breasts in, and about a cup each of applesauce and rhubarbsauce. And a bit of cinnamon, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. I forgot about the garlic and vinegar, and the chunk of onion I meant to put in was still sitting beside the pot when I got home. It cooked on low for 6 hours.
It still worked. It was a bit odd. W thought it was weird and refused to eat any. Mike liked it. I ate it, but thought I could have made better use out of those chicken chests. Awhile later when I was putting it away I picked at W’s and liked it much more; the sauce seemed to thicken up and the chicken was incredibly moist. It might be worth making using cranberry applesauce, or at least a few cranberries added to the mix.
The smashed potatoes were leftover from our Thanksgiving shoot (smashed potatoes are so much less pressure than mashed – just use thin skinned ones and you don’t even have to peel them), and the beets I had tucked in the oven to roast while I had it on for something else and had to be used; I cut chunks into a hot pan and drizzled them with balsamic vinegar and honey in a lazy attempt to recreate the balsamic carrots and beets I had thought at the time I’d be living on for the rest of summer. Winter too.
Buttermilk Smashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions
about 5 Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered or cut into 6
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced (or 2 shallots)
1 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup(ish) buttermilk
salt and pepper
Cover potatoes with salted cold water in a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
While potatoes are simmering, heat the oil and butter in a skillet and cook the onion over medium heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until deep golden.
Drain potatoes, return to pot and coarsely mash with a potato masher, adding the buttermilk, salt and pepper. Stir in the onions and serve right away.
(I do believe I have reached the double digits. Gulp.)