If you’re lucky enough to find a handful of dishes that sort of cook themselves you’ve got a pretty good repertoire that you can always fall back on in case you’re not exactly prepared to make dinner for a friend whom you had invited over eons ago and just delayed figuring out a game plan. Not that this ever happens to me. Yeah, right.
As much as I am a born planner and a pretty much a control-freak in most aspects of my life, even I slide at times and kind of let laziness take over. I procrastinate, I watch mindless television, I wonder where did the time go? No, really? Are The Hills that worth my time? Apparently they are – how else would you explain this weekly mind-numbing ritual?
Well, here’s a meal for you that does indeed practically cook itself. It’s so unbelievably easy you’ll be tempted to keep this secret to yourself and not let others in on it. After you feed them this chicken, they will beg you for the recipe, they’ll have seconds and thirds and they’ll think that you slaved all evening over the stove.
Nothing can be further from the truth. This is a one baking dish meal and it takes minutes to put together and once you stick it in the oven, you only have to check on it once to turn the pieces over and then – voila! It will be done and delicious. Which, of course, means you have more time for The Hills, or something more intellectual perhaps? Gossip Girl, anyone?
I’d say serves 3-4 – except my friend and I ate it in 1 sitting, so 2 very hungry people
6 chicken drumsticks and/or thighs
1 pear, thinly sliced
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 leek, thinly sliced (the white part only – discard the top green, stringy part)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup orange juice, and perhaps more to coat the bottom of the pan if not enough
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wash and pat dry the chicken parts and place in a 9×11″ glass baking dish. Surround the chicken with the pear, shallots, leek and garlic. Pour orange juice and olive oil over it and season with salt and pepper.
After 20 minutes, turn the drumsticks over onto the other side and return to the oven for another 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
*I recommend the dark meat here because it is more difficult to overcook and it develops this amazing, falling-off-the-bone flavor and texture that is just difficult to get with white meat. I swear, you will wonder why it’s so easy and yet so good.