Sunday, October 11, 2015

October...Orange Awareness Month!

There is a line in Alice Walker's "A Color Purple" that, for some reason, stays with me about the beauty of the world around us. “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” 

Well, with all due respect to Ms. Walker, if the world is asking us to take notice, blazing bright against the hues of autumn, it is the color orange that pleases me back, front and upside down. And it reigns in the month of October!

Driving down a tree-lined street, as the amber, gold and red leaves extend on branches and wash over my car in an orange reflection, I always whisper a prayer of gratitude as natures serves as witness to this wondrous creation. I notice. In the early morning, when the damp mist from an earth still warm from summer, rises over a field to meet the crisp autumnal air, it's hard not to notice. When it comes to capturing our attention, I don't think God has a thing to worry about. 

The orange of October even has its own scent. Several actually. Burning leaves, pumpkin spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and anything cooking  in the kitchen on crisp autumn days. As a matter of fact, in keeping with the colors, the scents and taste of October, here is a great recipe I always make around Halloween. Because it has prunes in it, I had to give it a really cool name to get my family to try it initially, but once they did, it was a smash hit! By the way, after adding the hot sauce, it turns orange!

Devil Kill Chicken

3 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs, washed and dried
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 orange, juiced
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 cup pitted prunes (you can substitute  raisins or apricots in place of the prunes-which ever way you want to go. Pun intended,)

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the flour to a pie plate and season with salt and pepper, paprika, and cayenne, whisking to incorporate. Dredge the chicken through the flour, shaking off the excess.

Heat a large skillet with the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken skin side (meaty side) down and sear until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes, Flip and continue cooking the other side for 3 more minutes. Remove to a platter and set aside.

Add the white wine to the skillet and scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock, orange juice and zest and the hot sauce. Add the red pepper flakes and whisk in the hot sauce and mustard. Bring to a simmer and add the chicken and the juices that are left in the platter. Top with the prunes. Reduce the heat to low and cover tightly with a lid. Let the chicken braise for 40 minutes.

Uncover the chicken and remove to a serving platter. Turn the heat to high and let the sauce reduce for 2 to 3 minutes. Once thickened, taste for seasoning, and pour the sauce and prunes over the chicken. Serve immediately.

One more reason to love October is that it is the start of the gathering season. A time when family and friends come back indoors to huddle around the table. And if that isn't reason enough to love this time of year, I have one more item on my list that excites me more than words can say!

My Grandson Lucas! Be still my heart...

Photos courtesy of ImageGoogle and Trevor Phelps

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