One-Pot Chicken Dinner

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This meal came together through necessity and luck. I had returned from a trip, needed to provide a dinner that night, and was stuck behind my computer in my home office pushing out a time-sensitive work project.

I scrounged through the freezer and uncovered a package of boneless chicken breasts. Good start. Then I hit the pantry and the fridge and found onions, potatoes, apples, garlic and a pint of vegetable broth. My resulting braise earned praise from the family, and it will now join the rotation of go-to dinners for the fall season.

The fact that the chicken was frozen solid presented a bit of a problem, but fortunately, I had scoped this out early in the day.

I removed it from the package and soaked the chicken in cold water seasoned with salt, garlic powder and paprika. This nifty trick both expedited the defrosting process and brined the chicken for added moisture and flavor. If you don’t have time, inclination or need, you can skip this step and go straight to the recipe:

Autumn Braised Chicken Dinner

Serves 4

1½ pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs, brined if desired

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

2 large potatoes, sliced

½ onion, sliced

½ apple, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼-½ teaspoon salt

Generous sprinkle of fresh cracked pepper

¼ teaspoon thyme

¼ teaspoon rosemary

1 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth

If desired: 2 tablespoons chicken fat (schmaltz) or margarine to add richness

Heat your oven to 325 degrees. In a round, 2-quart casserole dish with a cover pour the oil into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

Lay the potatoes in the pan and up the sides, overlapping if needed. Top with a layer of onions, reserving a few to top the chicken

Place the chicken on top of the onions, then sprinkle with the remaining onions, garlic, and apples, pushing some into the crevices and all around the chicken.

Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary.

Pour the broth over the ingredients, daub with margarine or schmaltz, if using, and cover. Cook for about 2 hours until the vegetables are totally softened and the chicken shreds easily with a fork.

Serve with a simple green salad and crusty bread to absorb the braising liquid.

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