Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chicken with Escarole, Apples and Potatoes

        Out on Long Island, the apples are coming into play as we head into Fall and go back to wanting to eat something more substantial than summer fare.  Right near us, there’s a tremendous Pick-Your-Own Orchard run by the Halsey Family on Mecox Road in Water Mill.  Now Halsey is a name that dates back to the original English settlers who arrived on the South Fork in 1640.  Imagine, the descendants of the Pilgrims who landed on Long Island from the Massachusetts Colony are still farming the land, 370 years after their ancestors arrived!     
        You can wander among their trees and pick a cornucopia of apples—this week, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Empire, Mutsu, Idared, and  Stayman varieties can be combined in ½ bushel bags weighing 20 lbs for $30.00.  You can find out which varieties of apples of the 20 they grow are ripe for picking by going to .  Now half a bushel may sound like a lot of apples.  But they keep surprisingly well for a good long time.  And read on, because your future may not belong to Apple Pie alone. The Orchard is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  You can also find your own Halloween pumpkin sized for ½ lb to 150 lbs.  There are gourds and squash too.  And directly across the lane from the Halsey’s “Milk Pail”, another one of our great farming families, the Ludlows, have a Corn Maze that’s an annual tradition for families out here. 
        With all those apples, I was pleased to find a recipe that used them as part of a delicious main course—a whole dinner when you add some fingerling potatoes!  It came from Sara Jenkins.  Now Sara is better known for her Pork.  In fact, we featured a riff on her recipe for Porchetta right here.  ( is the Chef/Owner of Porchetta  (110 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10000 (b/n 1st Street and Avenue A); 212-777-2151;   She’s also the author of the highly praised ‘Olives and Oranges” which Mario Batali is quoted as saying makes it clear that Sara has
“olive oil in her veins and blood oranges in her heart”.  
Remember how good crispy chicken skin tastes?
        This recipe for Chicken is an example of Sara’s gift for taking the simplest ingredients and making something fresh and clean and easy.  It uses one skillet to steadily build flavor in the pan.  First you cook the chicken in olive oil until the skin is crispy and crunchy.  Then you add the apples, next the potatoes and finally the garlic, escarole and white wine.  I confess that this was my first foray cooking escarole and it strikes me as the perfect green for this time of year with its slightly bitter taste that contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of the apples.  This is one quick one dish dinner that’s satisfying comfort food and perfect for a Fall evening meal.

Recipe for Chicken with Escarole, Apples and Potatoes courtesy of Sara Jenkins

12 ounces small new potatoes

4 8-ounce boneless chicken breasts with skin

Fine sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 semi-tart apples, such as Empire or Macoun, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths

1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled

1 pound escarole, leaves torn

1/2 cup dry white wine

1. Heat oven to 250°F.

2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and place on a plate in a single layer to cool. When potatoes are just cool enough to handle, flatten each one slightly by gently pressing on it with the side of a chef's knife. Set aside.

3. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, in batches if necessary, and cook until skin is golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn and cook, until underside is slightly golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a baking pan, cover with foil, and place in oven.

4. Drain oil from skillet, return to medium-high heat, and add 2 tablespoons butter. Add only as many apples as will fit in a single layer and cook, turning apples as they brown, until golden on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with any remaining apples.

5. Add 2 more tablespoons butter to skillet. Add only as many potatoes as will fit in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook over medium-high heat, turning once, until potatoes are warmed through and golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with any remaining potatoes.

6. Add garlic and as much escarole as you can comfortably fit into skillet, increase heat to high, and cook, stirring, until escarole starts to wilt and you can add more, about 1 minute. Add remaining escarole and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute more. Add wine and cook until escarole is tender and wine is slightly reduced. Add apples and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

7. Remove chicken from oven and pour any juices from pan into skillet with escarole and apples. Stir to combine.

8. Divide potatoes among four plates, then add chicken and escarole mixture, leaving juices in skillet. Return skillet to high heat, bring juices to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Whisk in remaining tablespoon butter. Season sauce with salt and pepper, pour over chicken, and serve.