As you can probably tell by my post frequency lately, it’s been a crazy Christmas season thus far. It’s been good craziness, don’t get me wrong – we’ve been hosting and attending parties, hanging out with friends, and I’ve been baking sugar cookies like a *madwoman*. It’s been hard to find the motivation to make a big production in the kitchen for regular old dinner, though… The “special” stuff has really taken over. Thirty minutes of effort is about all I can manage these days.
That’s why I really loved my “accidental” make-ahead meal – Roasted Chicken Breasts with Carrots and Onions from the November 2004 issue of Everyday Food. It was an accident because I fully intended to cook the meal the night I assembled it, but my chicken hadn’t thawed completely in the refrigerator. (I HATE it when that happens!) I suppose I could have thawed it some other way, but I decided to just assemble the meal according to the recipe, wrap it thoroughly in plastic wrap, and then stash it for the next night.
This meal was really easy, and it only took about 15 minutes to assemble. First, I peeled and halved 1 pound of carrots and cut the halves into 1/2-inch chunks. I peeled and quartered 6 garlic cloves and then cut 1 medium red onion into 1/2-inch wedges as well.
I lined a rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty foil and placed 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves on the baking sheet. I scattered the carrots, garlic, and onion around the chicken and seasoned everything generously with salt and pepper. This is the point where I normally would have started roasting the meat and vegetables; instead, I wrapped the baking sheet with plastic wrap and placed it in the refrigerator.
The next night, I quartered 3/4 cup of pitted prunes while I waited for my oven to preheat. When the oven reached 450F, I roasted the chicken and vegetable mixture for 10 minutes. Next, I pulled the baking sheet out of the oven, stirred the quartered prunes into the vegetable mixture, and roasted everything for an additional 20 minutes (until the chicken was cooked through). I served the dish over couscous.
I actually really liked this recipe. The chicken was flavorful and juicy, the garlic and red onion added a hint of “zip,” and I *loved* the sweetness of the dried prunes. I had a moment of panic during the roasting time when I realized I hadn’t tossed the veggies with any olive oil; that’s pretty standard for this type of dish. When I double-checked the recipe, though, I saw that it didn’t call for any oil. Whew. Thanks to generous seasoning, the flavor was still terrific. Next time, I probably will cut my carrots a bit smaller, though; they were crisp-tender, but I usually like my roasted carrots to be pretty soft.
TIPS: I don’t know why I’ve never cooked couscous in the microwave before, but it’s so ridiculously easy. I just followed the package directions and brought the recommended amount of water to a boil in a microwave safe dish with a lid. I stirred in the couscous, put the lid on, and it was ready to go (after I seasoned it, of course) in 5 minutes. Sides don’t get much quicker or easier.
Recipe link: Roasted Chicken Breasts with Carrots and Onions