Photo from epicurious.com because the last thing I wanted to do at 9:30pm when this piece of work finished cooking was take a picture!
If any dish is the definition of a hot mess, this one is it! And like any hot mess, it seemed totally normal and manageable in the beginning. Then, slowly, it showed its true colors.
I got this recipe out of the Bon Appetit Best of 2001 cookbook, but you can also find it on epicurious.com. First, a little back story on the Best of cookbook. Either last Christmas or the one before, my mom and I were perusing the goods at Ocean State Job Lot. If you have ever been into an Ocean State Job Lot, you know how very special they are. If you haven't, well, I wouldn't suggest searching one out now. You just wouldn't get it. And the experience may scar you for life. So they have a whole shelf of cookbooks on super sale (I think it was buy one at $10, get one free, or something ridiculous like that). So I got the Bon Appetit Best of 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2005 cookbooks.
Back to Saturday night's dinner. I figured, it's Saturday, we don't have anything to do, I can make a meal that is more involved than one I would choose to make on a weeknight. Well this sucker took me over two hours! Just to start off you have to peel 2 parsnips, 4 potatoes and 2 apples. I hate peeling round things! And I think I need a different kind of peeler because I ended up peeling a comparable amount of skin off my finger.
Anyway, it is going along fine, I cook the parsnips, cook and mash the apples and potatoes, cook the chicken thighs (they got great color), and continue on. (Although reading through the recipe online, I realized I skipped over the "cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces" part. Woops!) I didn't have any brandy for the last part where you reduce the broth mixture, so I used more apple juice. Should be fine. Well, I guess I didn't reduce it long enough because when I poured it over everything in the baking dish, it came up awfully high. Then I started to scoop the mashed apples and potatoes on top and it started to overflow all over the stove top. Now, most sane people would have stopped at this point, maybe drained some of the liquid out. Maybe have gotten a larger baking dish. Oh, no, not me! (And I was a couple glasses of wine in at this point seeing as it had been taking so long!) So I put the pan on a baking sheet to contain the mess and continued to scoop the mashed mixture on top. Some of it sunk. Fine. I finally get it in the oven and leave the kitchen to watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia with MM. (If you have not seen this show, add it to your queue! It is hilarious. Inappropriate at many times, but hilarious!)
The oven timer goes off 35 minutes later and I discover that the oven had turned itself off at some point. It didn't powerfail, which is what it usually does, because the timer still worked (and it had already powerfailed once on Saturday when I was preheating the oven for the cookies). Great! The internal temp was down to 200, so I turn the oven back on and left the slop in the oven for more time.
Long (very long) story short, the mashed mixture on top never got crusty, although everything underneath it was warmed through. And after all that we didn't even like it. It was like soup with chicken thighs and some mashed potatoes. (Although, I must admit I can see how it would have been better if I had cut up the thighs.) Then MM says, "I don't like chicken thighs, they stay too moist and it makes me think they aren't cooked all the way through." So I said, "Are you saying you like dry chicken breasts because you know they are cooked?" "Yes." Ok, fine.
Moral of the story, I should probably stick to Italian food.