Wednesday, February 6, 2013

One Pan Chicken Wonder

So delicious! (1)
I love meals that turn into immediate family favorites. In our home, we all love chicken, and I cook it often enough. I try not to buy all breasts, even though we all enjoy breast meat. Generally I buy a pack of chicken that contains all the various parts. Sometimes I use them together and sometimes separately. This week, I used breasts in another meal earlier in the week, so I had legs with backs to use up. I ran into a great recipe over at Julie's Eats and Treats (via Pinterest, my go-to for new recipes!).

This recipe is one of the easiest I've ever made. Anyone can do this. I wish I'd taken pictures, but I'll admit I thought it was "too easy to bother with." I've changed my mind. This is totally worth sharing!

Start with chicken (2)
I used one of my Granite Ware roasting pans to cook this in, as I am feeding five adults and two first graders at each meal. I sprayed the pan with cooking spray, so the ingredients wouldn't stick to it. Then I put the chicken legs (still mostly frozen, I might add) into the pan in the center. I had four chicken legs with backs attached, and I spaced them evenly. The recipe on Julie's Eats and Treats calls for a package of ranch dressing powder as flavor, but I didn't have any, so I used a blend of salt, pepper, garlic powder, celery seed, dried onion flakes and a no-salt seasoning mix that the family likes. I sprinkled them over the chicken evenly.

Spuds (3)
On the "foot end" of the chicken, I put a pre-cooked frozen bag of smashed potatoes. Earlier in the year, when we bought all our potatoes, we took several pounds and cooked them up in the Westinghouse slow cooker. These were then scooped out of their skins and smashed lightly with forks, and frozen in 2lb bags. It was incredibly easy to just pull out the bag, completely frozen, and dump them into the pan. I sprinkled the seasonings over them as well, and then put a half stick of butter over the chicken and potatoes, in little chunks (see the top photograph).

Green beans (4)
I put the pan into a 250F oven for an hour, at which point the chicken and potatoes were mostly defrosted but definitely not cooked through. The butter had mostly melted, and there was a nice bit of juice in the bottom of the pan. I basted everything a bit with a spoon, then put it in for another hour at the low temperature. At the end of the second hour, the meat and potatoes were fully defrosted and starting to actually cook, and so I added in one 2lb package of frozen green beans to the "meat end" of the chicken. It all looked very pretty, but I was still dubious that anyone would like the results.

I turned the heat up to 375F and cooked it for another full hour (checking every 20 minutes for doneness, and taking the top off the pan for the last 20 minutes). The smell in the house was incredibly by this time, and people were complaining that the food wasn't on the table. I hurried it out, scooping the beans and potatoes into separate serving bowls. I noticed that the beans had been cooking in the juice, and were a bit mushy looking, and I was disappointed. The family isn't fond of mushy beans, and neither am I. Still...

The chicken was perfectly done, moist without being fatty, and delicious. The potatoes had started to brown and crisp a bit on top, which turned out to be the perfect thing. The green beans were not actually mushy at all, surprisingly! They were coated in the juices, but other than a few minor bits from the very bottom of the pan, they were pretty crisp, and had a lovely, fresh flavor!

I would make this again. I will be making this again. It was easy, pretty, delicious, and nutritious. I might even make some ranch dip mix up, just to pour over the top and see how the flavor changes.

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1) Image courtesy of Julie's Eats and Treats (used with permission).
2) Image by cohdra / morgueFile
3) Image by Alvimann / morgueFile
4) Image by kamuelaboy / morgueFile