I certainly can't lay claim to being the originator of this now rampant topic (I suspect there are variations of it appearing everywhere from the Food Network on down to weekly church bulletins) but since its appeal and relevance can't really be overstated, I'm happy to throw more fuel on the fire. Or more chicken thighs in the oven, as the case may be.
It's not very often that radio makes me salivate, but while stuck in mid-morning traffic yesterday, WNYC's The Takeaway pulled a fast one that managed to divert me from my intended destination and on to the supermarket. The show's guests included New York Times food writers Julia Moskin and Kim Severson, who'd been pitted against one another in a cheesy, sudden death-style cookoff where the goal was to produce a sumptuous menu for an imagined dinner party of six -- for no more than 50 bucks.
Suffice it to say, as these ladies discussed their respective menus, they quickly revealed their prowess where matters of cooking on the cheap are concerned. I listened intently, and nearly mowed down numerous pedestrians as increasingly distracting visions of carnitas, chili-spiced peanuts, and tangerine floats monopolized my attention. But the description that really sent my stomach into fits of desire was Ms. Moskin's adaptation of a classic Jewish recipe for roast chicken with currants and pine nuts. With no dinner parties on our immediate radar, I decided to adapt this dish for two, and the delicious results have definitely earned it a place in our arsenal of comfort food standbys. It boasts a head-spinning combination of sweet and savory flavors, and considering that you can acquire all the necessary ingredients with little more than the spare change rolling around your desk and sofa, I suspect you'll be on board with me after giving it a whirl.
(Note: this is my adapted version of the recipe which makes enough for four servings. If you want the actual six-person dinner party version, go here.)
- Four chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-intact
- 1 clove minced garlic
- One box dried pasta
- 1/2 cup mixed raisins (golden and dark) or currants
- 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 teaspoons crumbled dried rosemary (I used half fresh)
- salt, pepper, paprika
* Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
* In a large glass baking dish (Pyrex, or something else that can go from oven to stove top), give your chicken thighs a generous sprinkle of salt, pepper, and paprika on all sides. Drop a bit of butter on top of each thigh, sprinkle on the garlic, and bake until the internal temperature is 170 degrees (this took slightly less than an hour in my wildly-inconsistent oven).
* When your chicken is almost done, boil a large pot of water and add your pasta to it. After the chicken is cooked, remove it from the oven, and use two forks to separate the meat and skin from the bone. (Be careful to avoid pulling off any gristle.) Use the forks to shred the meat into bite-size pieces. Discard the bones.
* Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta, and then add it to the baking dish containing the shredded meat and skin. Set a LOW flame underneath it and use tongs to mix the pasta and chicken.
* Keep mixing while adding raisins, rosemary, toasted pine nuts, and parsley. If it seems dry (unlikely, unless you severely overcooked your chicken), add a little bit of the pasta water. When all the elements seem adequately married to one another, turn off the heat, plate, serve, and enjoy!