Simple Food is Best

Yesterday was another two dinner preparation day. In addition to our “normal” Monday activities, my eldest was inducted into the National Honor Society today so I had to have something that we could do easily and early. 

I’ll start with Sunday dinner, I just happened to scroll across this recipe for Roasted Garlic Clove Chicken in my email. Two items that I love: roasted garlic and chicken thighs. (Bone-in chicken is worth getting your fingers messy every single time. I also have a roasted chicken that’s stuffed with about 3 heads of garlic, but that’s a post for another day.

I planned other simple food to go with it: green beans with mushrooms and rice. I set the rest of my week before heading out shopping. For Monday, I decided on Crock Pot Cranberry Pulled Pork Sandwiches.

Sunday was fairly relaxing in spite of making two meals. Monday’s dinner took priority with 6 hours needed in the crock pot. I mixed the sauce and the trimmed a pork loin, cut it in half, and added it to the pot and coated it completely. I originally came across this recipe on another blog (julieseatsandtreats.com) as a crock pot roast recipe. It didn’t fit my idea of a roast but the flavors intrigued me; I’m always looking for good sandwiches that can be prepped in advance, so I modifed accordingly. (I think this is the only use I have ever had for a can of cranberry sauce, but it does work.)

  
Closer to dinner I started on the chicken, I got it out on the cutting board and salted and peppered it thoroughly (meats simply cook more evenly from room temperature) and then I set to peeling garlic and snipping beans.   

   
Before starting anything else, I par-boiled the beans (3 minutes) and began the rice to allow it enough time. An early Christmas gift from my boss that I was excited to try.

  
He was clear that the best rule was to simply follow the instructions: water, rice, and salt, and do not lift the lid until the 45 minutes of simmering was complete! He assured me that the aroma would be amazing. 

The first smell in the kitchen was the garlic in the cast iron skillet, while it sautéed I started the mushrooms, and then when the garlic was golden, I set them aside, the heat went up and the chicken went in, skin down. 

   
 
The rest was easy, return the garlic to the pan and put it in the oven. Add the green beans to the mushrooms. Make a quick sauce at the end. 

 

Another wonderful salad from my MIL
  
  
Sorry I don’t have scratch & sniff
 
  
The rice was completely as promised, from the smell you knew it was going to be delicious and it did not disappoint. 

After dinner, my crock pot bowl went into the fridge and today, I finished up the sandwiches by pouring off the liquid into a saucepan, bringing it to a boil, and reducing slightly until I stirred in the corn starch. The only remaining task was to shred the pork and build the sandwiches, and that would be the only missing picture. To completely do this as a make ahead, the sauce can be done the same day and stirred into the shredded pork. 

Roasted Garlic Clove Chicken

Prep 20 min ∙ Cook 45 min ∙ Makes 6 servings ∙ Source Foodnetwork.com
INGREDIENTS

  • 6-12 chicken thighs (1-2 per person)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 heads garlic, separated into whole cloves, papery skin removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Bread, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Salt and pepper liberally and allow to temper on a cutting board while you prepare the garlic.

In a large ovenproof saute pan over medium heat, cook the whole garlic cloves in olive oil and butter, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Remove the garlic from the pan and set aside.

Increase the heat to medium high and brown the chicken skin-side down until the skin is golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken over, sprinkle on herbes de Provence. Add the garlic back to the pan and place hot pan in oven. Bake the chicken until cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Once the chicken is done, remove chicken thighs and garlic to a platter. Place the pan over medium-high heat and sprinkle the drippings with flour and stir to incorporate. Deglaze the pan with the wine and lemon juice. Pour the sauce over the chicken on the platter and serve with bread for sauce-mopping and garlic-spreading.

Crock Pot Cranberry Pork Loin Sandwiches

Prep 15 minutes ∙ Cook 8 hours ∙ Makes 8 Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 14 ounce can jelled cranberry sauce
  • ½ cup cranberry juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • 3 lb pork loin, trimmed and cut to fit in slow cooker
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp cold water
  • 8 ounces Brie, cut round in half then slice thinly
  • 1 loaf Italian bread

DIRECTIONS

1. In slow cooker mash cranberry sauce; stir in cranberry juice, sugar, mustard, and cloves until mixed. Place roast in slow cooker, turning to coat completely. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours (5½ if it will rest on warm after cooking).

2. Turn off heat on slow cooker and transfer 2 c. of liquid from the slow cooker into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.

3. In a small bowl combine cornstarch and cold water to make paste. Stir paste mixture into saucepan. Cook and stir until thickened (like barbeque sauce.

4. Shred the pork in the remaining liquid and stir well. Butter outside of bread and top bottom slice with pork then Brie. Top with other half and grill on panini press (medium heat) until golden. Serve with sauce.

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