The salad recipe featured in this blog’s previous post drew some rave reviews from weekend guests.
The reception perhaps owed something to our friends’ status as home gardeners, although rhubarb is not a crop they cultivate. But I like to think it was the ideal intersection of velvety greens, earthy nuts, salty cheese and a sweet-tart vinaigrette that went a long way toward taming the rhubarb, still assertively sour when I pulled roasted slices from the oven. Voila: A new signature dish for my repertoire.
Of course, I couldn’t be expected to follow the recipe to the letter, not when I had plenty of acceptable — even preferable — substitutes on hand. Like so many dishes, this salad is really more about concept.
Romaine and butterhead lettuces, with a bit of mesclun, all from my own garden, replaced the watercress. I mixed up a balsamic vinaigrette rather than sherry vinegar. My favorite Israeli sheep-milk feta makes for a superior alternative here to goat cheese. And because I had candied pecans on hand, those were an obvious addition, rather than walnuts.
I toyed with the notion of adding garden-fresh scallions, rather than the recipe’s shallots, but didn’t want to upset the balance of key ingredients. Because of their proliferation around the garden, scallions manage to insinuate themselves into so many meals this time of year.
Knowing full well that I had the following recipe at my disposal, I decided to wait a few meals and give scallions their due. This chicken dish also would befit my garlic scapes, rather than the green garlic suggested in the recipe.
Tribune News Service writers are adamant that, despite the sauce’s greenish hue, this is another company-worthy dish.
Skillet Chicken With Rhubarb
5 1/2-pound whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 tablespoon, plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
5 fresh thyme sprigs, preferably lemon thyme
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch spring onions or scallions, white and light-green stalks thinly sliced (slice and reserve greens for garnish)
2 stalks green garlic, thinly sliced, or 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 pound fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch dice (3 cups)
1 tablespoon honey, or to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Pat the chicken dry and season with 1 tablespoon of the salt and the pepper. Place in a bowl with the thyme sprigs and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Remove thyme from bowl with chicken, reserving thyme. Add chicken pieces to skillet and sear, turning occasionally, until golden-brown all over, for about 10 minutes. Transfer pieces to a platter.
Reduce heat to medium. Stir in the onion (white and light-green parts) and cook until softened, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and reserved thyme; cook 1 minute more. Stir in the wine and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits in bottom of pan. Add the rhubarb, honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Return chicken pieces to pot in a single layer. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, for 15 to 20 minutes for breasts and 20 to 25 minutes for legs and thighs, transferring chicken pieces to a platter as they finish cooking.
Whisk the butter into rhubarb sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Spoon sauce over chicken and garnish with sliced onion greens.
Makes 4 servings.
— Recipe from Melissa Clark, New York Times