We’ve had more unseasonably cool weather. Today the temperatures struggled to get out of the 50s F, when ordinarily we’d be at least 80 degrees F for the daytime high. These cool temperatures make me rethink both kitchen and garden. Tonight for dinner, for instance, I served up a variation on Thanksgiving, with my treasured frozen turkey stock enriching both dressing and gravy, chicken leg quarters roasted with rosemary and apple cider (see below), green beans with onions and crumb topping, and cranberries cooked with apple cider and maple sugar. Ordinarily at this time of year, I wouldn’t be heating up the house with this much cooking, but the cool temperatures made it the frugal thing to do. I worked on cleaning out the freezer at the same time. And oh my stars, the whole house smells like rosemary and roasted poultry now!
In the garden temperatures like these make me wonder if I could plant another crop of lettuce. I know it’s risky, so I content myself that if I cut off the heads of some leaf lettuce and they grow back, we’ll have more than enough lettuce until hot temps make that crop untenable. I checked NOAA. Are we in a La Nina pattern now? I can’t tell. La Nina could change all of my garden plans, bringing extended spring to Arkansas summer.
Weather is why agriculture has always been a gamble and always will be a gamble. If you want to feed yourself (or a nation), you must always be prepared for the unexpected.
Roasted Rosemary Chicken Quarters
- 2-3 chicken quarters, skin on
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 3-4 large sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1/2 sweet onion, cut into slivers
- 1/2-1 cup apple cider (or 1/2 cup cider vinegar and 1/2 cup cider if you want to make gravy–see option below involving potato flour and whole-grain pastry flour)
Preheat oven to 325-350 degrees F. Salt and pepper the skin side of the chicken quarters. Heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a cast iron pan (with lid!) that’s big enough to hold your leg quarters, tightly. Brown the skin side of each quarter over medium-high heat, salting and peppering the non-skin side as you brown the other side. When the quarters are browned, turn off the heat, put the quarters non-skin side down on top of the rosemary sprigs. Spread the onions on top. Pour on the apple juice (and cider, if you want), and put on the lid. Bake for about an hour. The recipe is so simple, but the flavor and moisture in the chicken could not be much simpler.
If you want to make gravy with what’s in the pan, toss 1 tablespoon potato flour with about 1 tablespoon whole-wheat pastry flour with the onion slivers before you put them on the chicken. Toss on the flour mixture with the onions. When you pour on the cider, be sure to pour it over the onions, so that you moisten the flour. By the time you get done cooking, you’ll have gravy. Seriously, the gravy really is going to make itself.
By the way, this chicken works really well in a Dutch oven for camping! I won a Dutch-oven cookoff last fall with a similar recipe.
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