Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chicken Normande

While the cold weather is allowing me to enjoy some of my favourite Winter dishes like Chicken Normande with Mashed Apples and Potatoes, I must say I am very tired of this:

And am so looking forward to some of this:

Seriously. It's been Winter for like, 2 years now. Even my kids are over it. I'm tired of my Winter wardrobe and I'm growing tired of Winter dinner dishes. I'd like to start easing into some Spring menus but this weather is less than inspiring. Although the Chicken Normande we had Sunday night was very inspired and in the interests of full disclosure, was actually made by my husband as I was occupied elsewhere. He did a fantastic job. Chicken Normande is kind of like a chicken Shepherd's Pie with the fun (and slightly sweet) addition of apples in the mashed potato topping. I would have taken a picture but I was too depressed by the long range weather forecast to bother. Cold, colder, coldest.

Chicken Normande (from Epicurious)

3 cups chicken broth
1 cup apple cider or apple juice
8 ounces parsnips, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 3/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 pound Golden Delicious apples (about 2 large), peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons butter
8 skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup brandy
1/3 cup whipping cream
    Combine first 3 ingredients in heavy large pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer until parsnips are tender, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer parsnips to small bowl. Add potatoes and apples to same pot. Cover; simmer until very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Using slotted spoon, transfer potatoes and apples to large bowl; add 3 tablespoons butter. Mash until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour broth mixture from pot into medium bowl; reserve pot.
    Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and 4 teaspoons thyme; dust with flour. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in reserved pot over medium-high heat. Add half of chicken. Sauté until brown and cooked through, turning with tongs, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sautéed chicken to 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Repeat with remaining chicken. Top with parsnips, remaining 2 teaspoons thyme and peas. Return broth mixture to same pot; add brandy and whipping cream. Boil over medium-high heat until sauce is reduced to 1 1/4 cups, scraping up browned bits, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon over chicken. Cover with potato-apple mixture. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Refrigerate until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated.)
    Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake casserole uncovered until potato topping is crusty and chicken filling is heated through, about 35 minutes (about 45 minutes if refrigerated).

    On the bright side of things, we have another potluck planned at work and we are indeed going with a Quebecois theme. Expect a full report. I am also thinking about a feast to honour St. Patrick's Day, mostly because we have our very own Patrick and he somehow has gotten it into his head that SPD is about him. Which really, why wouldn't it be?

    Daniel and I are also collaborating on a fun meal. He has become a bit obsessed with all things Titanic so when I found "Last Dinner on the Titanic" on a used book site the other day, I snapped it up and suggested he help me with Sunday dinner: Titanic edition. We've already had some discussion on the merits of re-creating certain menu items (we aren't big on the fish course) and I'm trying to figure out how to decorate the table to bring some Titanic-like atmosphere to my dining room. I realize this is kind of a macabre theme for a dinner but I figure he's interested and I'm game so we're going to go for it.

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