It’s been ‘chilly’ and ‘rainy’ down here in our usually sunny So Cal. Again, I won’t share the temps or rainfall totals* for fear of retaliation from my more weather challenged friends, but dang it, I’ve been cold. Cold and hangry. Most days the weather in Southern California does not warrant the hearty meals I used to make when I lived in Nor Cal. Being house bound during the stormy winter months I lived for making yummy one pot meals: Stews, chilis, roasts, and soups. Having one of those simmering on the stove, or roasting in the oven, was bliss to me. However, since moving 562 miles to the southern part of the state, the way I cook has undergone a certain transformation over the last 10+ years. I’ve definitely had to lighten up, making fare that suited a warmer climate. When I used to love having something cooking on the stove all day, down here I will still start my cooking early, but it’s mostly to avoid the temps as they rise throughout the day.
Well, today I got my wish. It was rainy and cool (ok, I will go with cool, and not cold!) and I got to make a gently adapted version of one of my favorites, Hugh Acheson’s Cane Vinegar Chicken Thighs. Years ago, apparently 2011 to be exact (how’d that happen?), he made this on The Today Show , and I was sold. Even though the recipe calls for a specialty vinegar called Cane Vinegar, which I originally had used, it can be hard to find, and you can substitute other vinegars. Usually, I will sub cider vinegar, if I don’t have cane on hand. It is worth it to make the extra effort to seek out the cane vinegar. It adds a subtlety of flavor that is delicious. I usually serve this dish over Israeli couscous, but since I’m still trying to make a concerted effort to ‘shop my pantry,’ I roasted the white and blue new potatoes I already had on hand. It wouldn’t be my first choice again. You need something to soak up the delicious sauce this dish creates. I would definitely opt for couscous, mashed potatoes, or, playing off the southern roots of this dish, biscuits. As you can see from the photo, there is lots of juice that shouldn’t go to waste!
This dish also calls for fresh spinach, pearl onions, and orange segments that help brighten the meal. Since my local grocery store does not carry frozen pearl onions and the peeling of fresh pearl onions are the bane of my existence, I opted for the shallots I had on hand. The shallots were equally flavorful. I just added them to the chicken as the thighs were browning so they could caramelize a bit. Best part about this whole dish? It can be made in just about 30 minutes. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Side Note: While I am eternally grateful to live in the land of eternal sunshine, I do miss the seasons up North. More specifically, cooking based on those seasons. However, anytime I get too melancholy for it, I just remember the last year I spent in Northern California. I had recently been dumped by my husband, and I cried every day. It also happened to be one of the wettest winters on record. It rained every day for the entire month of February, and 3 days into March. I’d had it. We moved to the OC and never looked back. But every once in awhile, it is nice to make a more substantial dish and pretend there is a fire roaring in the fireplace, and the rain is coming down sideways.
What are your go to winter one pot dishes that make you feel cozy?
*rainfall .14, temp, 52. LOL.