A while back, Troy and I spent a month consuming little more than bone broth and a very restrictive version of the Paleo Diet. Now normally, I’m the anti-diet queen, which is quite evident if you happen to view me in a bathing suit. But, Troy was (and still is) dealing with some pretty debilitating health issues, and this diet has purportedly helped others overcome complaints similar to his.
Now, I’m normally fairly adventurous when it comes to trying and appreciating new foods. I do draw the line with most offal (think organ meats, blood, etc.) because it inexplicably weirds me out, but otherwise I’m game for most anything.
So, prior to embarking on this crazy rough diet, I went to Barnes & Noble in search of a decent Paleo cookbook. This proved to be quite the challenge.
I discovered that most of the Paleo cookbooks on display either tried too hard to create Paleo alternatives to pastries and pizzas and all that jazz or were reminiscent of the vegan granola-style cookbooks of the 90s, swapping tofu out for meat. In other words, the pictures – contrary to the authors’ praises – looked a bit like cat vomit. As a recovering vegan, I can tell you that the shit tastes better than it looks, but not that much better. Needless to say I was not impressed.
And then there were those cookbooks that went beyond the weird.
The first Paleo cookbook I picked up had a recipe for pancakes made with cricket flour. Crickets. As in bugs. No thank you.
I was about to leave Barnes & Nobel empty-handed when I found the book that would soon change my life; a book that made Paleo food taste truly spectacular. The author – Simone Miller – is a legit foodie with zero pretentiousness. She’s freakin’ awesome. And the recipe that follows is my rendition of her pan-seared and braised chicken with bacon and apples from *affiliate link follows* The ZenBelly Cookbook. Do yourself a favor a snag yourself a copy of this masterpiece.
This chicken borders on the ethereal. It has crispy skin and is cooked in wine. In and of itself, this would be enough to make the most ironclad foodie swoon. But toss in apples, bacon, shallots, and thyme, and the resulting pan sauce is like nothing else you’ve ever tasted. Troy doesn’t really do “sauce” (despite the fact that I make a killer chicken au jus), but he always saves the congealed bits that remain after the last wing has been devoured. For future use.
This is one of those dishes that really begs to be eaten alone, with a great glass of vino, a lit candle, and an enamoring read.
Oh, and while we are no longer following a Paleo-style diet – life’s too short and we didn’t get the relief we were seeking – I continue to make this chicken all of the freakin’ time. Just sayin’.
Here is the recipe.
Simone Miller's Pan-Roasted Chicken with Bacon & ApplesPrint Recipe
- 1 whole chicken, quartered
- sea salt
- freshly cracked pepper
- 1 c. + a few glugs white wine (I use pinot grigio because I usually have some in the fridge)
- Several sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1/2 pound bacon
- A few sliced shallots
- 1 cored apple sliced into 1/2" thick half-moons (I recommend the tart-but-sweet pink lady variety)
Preheat the oven to 450 °F.
Set a cast iron or other heavy-duty oven safe skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and place skin-side down in the hot skillet. Cook for six or seven minutes, until golden brown. Turn the chicken pieces so that they are skin side up and cook for another four minutes. Add the thyme and pour in the wine, being sure to keep the thyme tucked into the meat so that it's not overly exposed to the heat. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Pour off most of the bacon grease. Add the apples and shallots and sauté until the apples start to color. Note that you may need to remove the bacon from the skillet if it begins to border on being overdone.
Add the bacon, shallots, and apples to the chicken. As with the thyme, make sure that the additions are mostly hiding between the chicken pieces so that they don't fry to a crisp in the hot oven. Add a few glugs of wine and return to the oven. Roast for another 10 minutes and temp the chicken pieces. If they haven't yet reached 165 °F, roast five minutes longer.
That's it! Make sure to serve a bit of the juice/sauce over the chicken, as it is insanely delish!