winner winner chicken dinner

ok….so, i have been so out of touch. i recently got promoted at my job (yay!) but thanks to the promotion, i have been working much more than normal….in my head AND on my feet. so, my apologies for being so out of touch for those of you that follow me. good news is, today i have my all time favorite best in the entire world lick your lips comfort food chicken casserole dinner to share. it is very unassuming, but blows me away everytime. more good news, hopefully next week i will be able to share with you a DIY craft of my very own….as long as it isn’t stupid, which i am hoping it won’t be. so, on to dinner.

ok, this is NOT a quick one. with prep-time and cooking, you are looking at about 2 hours, but it is fully worth it. in fact, i am cooking this one this weekend. (i usually repeat it about every 3 weeks). i got this recipe out of one of my favorite cookbooks “Apples for Jam”.

if you have never looked into it, you certainly should. the recipes are broken into “colors” and memories. i love the visuals in the book. the recipes take some time to prepare, so it is something you want to do when you are feeling the cooking or baking spirit. they are all excellent so far!

on to the chicken casserole….

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large chicken, cut into 8 portions (i prefer to buy 4 large legs because i looove them)
1 red onion, chopped (my favorites are sweet yellow onions instead)
1 small leafy celery stalk, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (i typically only use 2)
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups hot water
2 large rosemary sprigs

mu lady Tessa Kiros (the author) adds a nice tip to get a “small cauliflower, break it up into florets, and boil them in lightly salted water for a few minutes, just to soften, pat them dry, saute in olive oil over high heat until golden, and add to the casserole just toward the end so they don’t collapse”. so, that sounds so so good to me, but i have yet to add this to my casserole. i figure why mess with a good thing. i DO, however, add zucchini, carrot chunks, and baby bella mushrooms to mine toward the end because i find them to be perfect.

preheat your oven to 350 degrees. your first major step is to brown the chicken over medium-high heat in the oil so that it is golden. this can get messy, so i recommend using either the lid of the pan to deflect the splatter or get one of those splatter guards. i tend to forget this important step, but be sure to do all this in a large flameproof casserole. if you do not have a pan/pot that is safe for both the stove and the oven, you can put your casserole dish in the oven while it preheats and pour the goods in it after you do the stovetop process. it works just as well. you don’t have to be stopped by a lack of millions of special pots and pans.

i don’t own a splash guard, so i use the lid of my pan to spare my walls and counters and skin of hot oil splashes.
i also, for extra protection, wear an oven mit when i rotate the chicken. my husband makes fun of me for this. 🙂

after you fry the chicken, you can place it on a plate and salt the heck out of it….because i like salt!

now, leave the oil and add your chopped onion, reduce the heat and saute until they are all very golden and well-cooked. breathe it in….yummy smells!

once the onion is cooked to your liking, add the celery and cook until it is all a bit sticky looking and well cooked. stir in the garlic and paprika and, when you can smell the garlic, add the tomatoes. i know the “a bit sticky looking” seems abstract, but you will be surprised how you can actually tell. season with salt and pepper.

let this bubble up for a bit then add 2 cups of hot water and the rosemary and return the chicken to the casserole. bring to a boil. cover the casserole and move it to the oven. this is the big time issue. you have to cook it for 1 hour, then take off the lid and spoon the juices over any exposed bits of chicken. cook uncovered for another 30 minutes so that the sauce reduces and the cicken pieces brown a bit. i usually add my diced zucchini, carrots, and baby bellas after about 45 minutes or so of the covered cooking.

put the lid back on, turn the oven off, and leave the casserole in the oven until you are ready to eat. the chicken will literally fall off the bone. it is amazing!

oh please do enjoy this meal! it will soothe your soul.

today is my friday since i have the next 2 days off. (sigh) a rest very much needed. happy thursday!…(it’s thursday, right?)


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