Somehow when you combine a few ingredients and a few spices from the pantry in a Dutch oven, you can get a dish that is much greater than the sum of its parts: it comes out golden brown, with its own sauce and a blend of flavors that are comforting and tangy and potentially a little exotic. I call this version Golden Chicken. It has dried apricots and mushrooms, and it’s delicious served over a good rice blend, quinoa, rice pilaf, or whole-wheat couscous. All of the ingredients work seasonally too, since dried fruit is every season.
- two pinches each of paprika and cayenne pepper (ground fine)
- one pinch each of salt, freshly ground black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, and cumin–you can use more or less depending on how you like the spice, but just remember to go light with the allspice.
The Rest of the Ingredients:
- 2 chicken leg quarters, whole or cut into drumstick and thigh (or 4 chicken thighs, two chicken breasts, each cut in half, etc.)
- olive oil
- 1 medium sweet yellow onion, quartered and cut into thin wedges
- 8 dried apricots
- 8 portobellini mushrooms, quartered
- 1 heaping tablespoon of potato flour
- scant half cup dry white wine (pour a half cup, take a sip, and call it scant!). Option: If you do not drink alcoholic beverages, you can mix half white grape juice with half apple cider vinegar for a similar flavor–that is, 1/4 cup of each.
Begin by heating a 2-quart cast iron Dutch oven over medium high heat. Sprinkle the spices on the chicken on both sides. Add just enough olive oil to the Dutch oven to coat the bottom lightly, and put in the chicken, skin side down. Brown well and then turn to brown the other side.
Add the onions, wedges broken up. Put about half of the onions under the chicken and about half on top. Let the onion cook a few minutes while you cut the apricots into halves or quarters, depending on size. Now turn off the heat and add the apricot pieces on top of the chicken and onions. Sprinkle the potato flour on the dish. Now pour on the wine, making sure to use it to wash off any flour that is unattractively sprinkled. Toss on the mushrooms too. Bake at 325-350 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees. If you want, toast some almonds for garnish.
I like to serve this chicken and its fruity, mushroomy golden sauce over a nice rice blend, like brown rice with wild rice. You can make your own blend or buy one like Lundberg’s. (They are not paying me. They don’t even know who I am, but they do grow good rice.) If you serve rice with beans, you can increase your protein from veggie sources and eat less chicken.No, I did not overcook the beans. They’re wax beans. Mmmmmmmm.
This dish is perfect for families that want to branch out from traditional chicken. Not counting the rice, it’s an easy one-dish meal that even the younger family members can make. If you’re cooking with kids, let them try the spices before they add them to the blend and decide which ones they want to include.
Camping Dutch Oven Directions (2-quart Dutch oven)
I made this recipe on the stove top this time, but you can also take it camping. Follow the directions above, but start out with 5-6 coals on the bottom only, to brown the chicken on both sides. Then add in the rest of the ingredients (taking care to put half the onions on the bottom, as noted above, to prevent the chicken from burning), put on the lid, and add 7-9 coals to the top. You’ll need to rotate the whole Dutch oven a quarter turn every 10-15 minutes and the top a quarter turn every 10-15 minutes to avoid hot spots. Remember, the number of coals you’ll need and your cook time will be dependent on your coals; they’re not all created equal. Do you need a beginner camping Dutch oven recipe first? Try this one.
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