Friday, October 30, 2009

Sunday in the Rain

Sunday mornings have taken on a new routine around our house. After breakfast and some quality time with the newspapers, Paul and I have been heading over to the Bethesda Central Farm Market. It's a reminder of years past when both kids were in Sunday school and we would have "date morning," going to the gym and then strolling through the market in Dupont Circle before settling down with some coffee and the New York Times crossword puzzle.

We have come to know many of the vendors that we visit each week, and even recognize some of the regular shoppers. We have purchased everything from cider to merguez sausage, from bag your own lettuce mix to fresh trout to cheese. There are fruit and vegetable vendors, a fish seller, several farmers selling grass fed beef, bison, lamb and pastured chicken. We love stopping at all the stands to see what is new and different each week, tasting a piece of sausage here, an oyster there. Several weeks ago, there was a pizza truck there, run by three Italian brothers making Neapolitan pizzas in the built in pizza oven.

This past Sunday was a little different, as the light drizzle turned into a steady downpour just as we arrived. Many of the spots were empty and there were many fewer shoppers, but we bought some halibut from Mr. Lingenfelter and a baguette from the Atwater Bakery. Despite the weather, we were compelled to buy not one, but two containers of Pitango Gelato for the second week in a row. Last week was chocolate with dark chocolate chips and strawberry sorbet; this week we fell prey to the tasting spoons of espresso and cinnamon.

One of my favorite things to buy at the market for a weeknight dinner is a package of chicken thighs. They are easy to cook and difficult to overcook. Often, I just slather on a little mustard and then sprinkle some bread crumbs on top. Other times, I look for something different.
Though the cooking time takes this recipe just slightly out of my preferred time range of 30 to 45 minutes for a weeknight dinner, the preparation for this recipe is minimal and then the chicken just does its own thing in the oven leaving you time to assist with homework, reading, coloring , or preparing a side dish. I made these last week on the night that I had to take one child to a drama class at 6:30. I popped them in the oven before leaving and as the other child, a "responsible" teen, was home, left them to roast while I dropped drama girl off and came back. You could easily throw some potatoes or cauliflower in to roast at the same time and dinner would be complete. That night, I roasted some cut up fingerling sweet potatoes I'd bought at the farm stand the week prior, and then sauteed some kale when I returned home.

This is another delicious Ellie Krieger recipe from The Food You Crave (Taunton Press, 2008).

Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs
(Serves 4 - two pieces per person)

8 bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds), skin removed
1/3 cup grainy French mustard
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
3/4 teaspoon dried marjoram (I didn't have any so I substituted 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano)
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the mustard, garlic, marjoram (or oregano), and maple syrup in a small bowl. Spread about 1 tablespoon of the mustard mixture evenly on top of each chicken thigh, being careful to cover as much of the surface as possible to form a "crust." Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a large baking dish. Bake until mustard mixture has formed a crust and is slightly hardened, and the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced in the center, 45 to 50 minutes.

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