One Pan Chicken

By Michael Elmore

It’s a weeknight, and you need dinner on the table. One solution: planning. One option is doing your preparation ahead of time, such as making your mirepoix and freezing it for dishes you can make throughout the week. Here, we use the prepared mirepoix to put the dish together on Sunday evening. Come home on Monday, and all one has to do is pop the skillet into the oven.

MIREPOIX

Ingredients:

  • 4 onions
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 carrots

Directions:

  1. Dice each ingredient then toss together. Make more or less of the mixture in the same ration (2 onions to 1 celery to 1 carrot). Use immediately or place in a plastic bag and freeze to use as needed.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1.5 cups mirepoix
  • 10 fingerling potatoes, halved
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt
  • Paprika
  • 3 chicken quarters
  • Sumac

Directions – The Night Before:

  1. In a cast iron skillet, coat the bottom of the pan with the oil. Add the mirepox and spread evenly.
  2. Toss the potatoes with salt and paprika, then place on top of the mirepoix.
  3. Season the chicken with salt and sumac (approximately 2 tbsp over all three chicken quarters).  Squeeze the lemon over the entire mxiture.
  4. Place the chicken on top of the potatoes. Cover the skillet with foil then refrigerate.

Directions – Day of Cooking:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and let oven stand at 20 minutes at temperature. While preheating the oven, remove the skillet from the fridge to come to temperature.
  2. Place skillet in oven and cook for approximately 55-60 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

A Leeked Secret: Potato and Leek Soup

By Michael Araj

Sometimes a soul just needs a hearty soup to make it warmed. While better served in the winter, this soup can also be served chilled, and, because of the lack of cream, tends to be lighter than a typical potato soup would be. The leeks provide a subtle garlic-like note that plays well with the starchiness of the potatoes. Quick, easy to make, and delicious – there’s no bad time to sit down to a bowl of this.

We started out going through what we had on hand – some fingerling potatoes, a leek, freshly made vegetable stock, and thus the soup was born. We used fingerlings because that’s what we had, but we would have used Yukon golds had they been on hand instead. You can substitute the 20 fingerling potatoes for 2-3 large Yukon Golds.

Always get together your ingredients beforehand. The fancy term for this is mise en place (French for “everything in its place”), but it is useful to cook without scrambling for your ingredients while cooking.

We grabbed our Dutch oven because it makes for more even cooking, and I find soups work out better in here. Then cause those leeks to jump (i.e. sautee) before adding the garlic until fragrant. Yes, that’s a lot of garlic. We love garlic, call it an occupational hazard of having Middle Eastern parents. Then add the potatoes.

This will help bring out some of the natural flavors of all the ingredients and give them some dimension before we blend them into the soup.

Next, add the vegetable stock. Ours was homemade with mushroom stems and the tops of the leeks, but you can use whatever stock you prefer. If going with a store bought stock, just try to make sure it is as low in sodium as possible so that you have maximized control over the saltiness of the dish.

Simmer, but do not boil so that flavors develop and nothing overcooks.

Bring the stock to a simmer before reducing it to a simmer for approximately 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Then, using an immersion blender, blend all of the ingredients – the thin skins of the potatoes will help thicken the soup. Simmer the blended ingredients for 5-10 more minutes and adjust seasonings to taste.

All that’s left now is to pour some in a bowl, top with some chives for garnish and flavor, and sit down to a hearty meal. This goes well with a light salad or some bread to use as sop (I’m a Southerner through and through).

Leek and Potato Soup

Ingredients:

  • 20 fingerling potatoes, diced (or 2-3 large Yukon gold potatoes, diced)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and sliced into half moons (keep the tops of the leek for stock)
  • 1 quart stock of choice (we used homemade vegetable – recipe follows)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chives (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions, sweating them by stirring constantly so they do not caramelize. Add a pinch of salt – this will help draw out the moisture to soften the onions. Approximately 5-6 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, cooking another 30-60 seconds until fragrant.
  3. Add the potatoes, getting a sear on them. Continue to cook, stirring, for 10-15 minutes. Add a pinch of pepper.
  4. Add the stock, then bring it to a boil before reducing to a simmer. Simmer for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender.
  5. Using an immersion blender, blend the ingredients directly in the pot. If you do not have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender, but work in batches, then return the soup to the pot after completely blended.
  6. Continue to cook the blended soup for 5-10 more minutes, adjusting salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve immediately with garnished chives on top (optional).

Vegetable Stock

  1. Mix in 2 quarts of water into a large pot. Add the stems from a pound of mushrooms and the tops of any of the leeks. You can add any vegetable scraps that you have on hand (such as the bottoms of asparagus). This will add a subtle dimension of flavor to your soups. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer. Simmer until mixture reduces to approximately 1 quart.