Thursday, February 10, 2011

February 10: Cider Vinegar Chicken with Smashed Potatoes and a Watercress Cucumber Salad

2 to 2 1/4 pounds small red-skinned potatoes
   Coarse salt
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
   Coarse black pepper
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
3 tablespoons honey
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cups chicken stock or broth
1/2 cup half-and-half or cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 bunches of watercress, cleaned and trimmed
1/2 seedless cucumber, cut in half lengthwise then sliced into half-moons

Cut the potatoes in half and place in a pot, then cover with water. Cover the pot with a lid and bring the water to a boil. Salt the water and potatoes. Leave the lid off the pot and cook at a rolling boil until tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the EVOO. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the hot skillet. Brown the chicken on both sides, 3 minutes per side.

Remove and reserve the meat, covered with foil. Add another tablespoon of the EVOO, the onions, thyme, honey, and the garlic. Season the onions with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently for 7 to 8 minutes. You want the onions to get really brown and caramelized.

Add 1/2 cup of the cider vinegar and the stock.

Turn up the heat to high and bring the liquids up to a simmer. Once at a simmer, return the chicken to the skillet. Cook the chicken in the sauce for about 10 minutes, flipping the chicken over halfway through the cooking time.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the salad and finish the smashed potatoes.

Drain the potatoes and return to the hot pot. Add the half-and-half and the butter to the potatoes and smash with a fork or potato masher to the desired consistency. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper. Reserve the potatoes on the cook top, covered to keep warm.

For the watercress salad, in a bowl combine the Dijon mustard, the remaining 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar, and salt and pepper. In a slow, seady stream, whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of EVOO.

Toss the watercress and sliced cucumbers with the dressing.

Arrange the chicken breasts on dinner or serving plates. Pour a generous amount of sauce with the onions over the chicken breasts. (You will really enjoy dipping a little of those smashed potatoes in the sauce!) Serve the watercress and cucumber salad on the side.


Well, that's 2 really good meals in a row now. It seems I like meals with a little bit of sweetness, a little fat and lots of sauce. Chicken is really, really good cooked this way.

Rachael Ray says: "This recipe is an ode to my friend Leslie Orlandini's Cider Vinegar Chicken, which I have only heard tell about. Hey Les! You get an ode and I'm still sittin' over here, hunched over my computer, open-mouthed, waiting for a taste of the real deal! HINT!"

I think this is the real deal, and if it's not, I wonder if the other could taste any better :)

I wouldn't change the recipe, but I changed a few things for myself: I peeled the potatoes, because DH (dear husband) doesn't like the skins. I fileted the breasts because they're always too thick, take too long to cook, and are too much meat for us to eat. With half the breast it's so much better all around. I put a little honey on the salad. It would be good mixed in with the dressing. It's just too sour. I can't find watercress ever, so I just used the mixed greens that I bought at Sam's. I did change the recipe to use dried thyme instead of fresh. Other than that, I wouldn't change anything.

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