Monday, October 20, 2008

Maple-Roasted Chicken with Apple-Mushroom Wild Rice and Lentil Pilaf

The only things you should have to do on Sunday are: watch Meet the Press, read your favorite parts of the New York Times, go on a bike ride, and make a nice dinner. If those are the criteria for a perfect Sunday, I outdid myself and had a more perfect Sunday. Colin Powell started my morning by giving the most eloquent and poignant endorsement of Barack Obama, the Times had an awesome feature on Rachel Maddow, the park was at its fall best and my new bike was awesome (so was my partner, who encouraged me to keep going up those hills!), and the dinner we chose was soul-warming. On the way home from the park, we stopped by a Barack O'Bake Sale run by four neighborhood kids. Their enthusiasm was something else!

I got a free-range chicken at Fairway and brined it in water, kosher salt, a chopped up onion, and a sprig of rosemary. I left the chicken in the fridge in its brine for about 8 hours. When I took it out of the fridge, I rinsed it throughly, rubbed it with olive oil, and coated it with a spice mixture I got from a poultry-seller at the Grand Army Plaza Farmer's Market in Prospect Park. The spice mixture uses maple crystals as its base, so it was nice and sweet. We didn't do anything else to the chicken--just roasted it at 400 degrees for about an hour.

For the Apple-Mushroom Wild Rice and Lentil Pilaf, we didn't follow a recipe really. I got the idea from a fall recipe newsletter that advertised an Apple-Leek Stuffing. I couldn't find leeks anywhere this weekend, so I just used the apple part to inspire a nice side dish. In general, the pilaf was made this way:

Combine wild rice with a touch of olive oil in a small bowl. Sautee onion and garlic in a sauce pan. Once they are carmelized, add chopped mushrooms and celery. When they are soft, add the wild rice, chicken stock, and about 1/2 cup of lentils. Add salt and pepper and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes. When the rice is nearly done, add chopped apples to the mixture. Uncover and continue to cook until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed.

The dish is even better for lunch the next day.

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