Monday, December 17, 2012

one hundred and fifty

In case you haven't heard, December is halfway over.  That means I'm in the clear to ask one of my favorite questions: what is your favorite part of the holiday season?  I'm going to take a shot in the dark here and assume your answer was neither "I love listening to Aunt Gertrude's traditional rehashing of the time she passed those kidney stones!" nor "Golly, I've been counting down the days 'til Mom and Dad crack open the eggnog.  I'm still wound up from last year's humdinger of a nog flog!"

Sure, the holidays may include familial togetherness and love and peace and all of that jazz, but the truth of the matter is that those gaieties are merely distractions from the main attraction: the food.  These winter holidays are one of the few times a year we, as a society, have collectively agreed to let loose and eat whatever we can get our hands on, our skinny jeans be damned. We devour cookies and turkey legs, guzzle gallons of gravy, and eat dressing like it's going out of style, because you can only get those foods during the holidays, don'tcha know?

But why?  Why may I only eat cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving?  Why do birds only come stuffed in the last two months of the year?  Yeah, I don't know either.  My New Year's resolution this year is a simple one: to make holiday food into everyday food.  Since I'm the organized sort, I'm getting a head start on my resolution by sharing an awesomely easy, superbly delicious way to enjoy chicken (or turkey) and dressing anytime... sans family brawls.

Thanksgivingless Chicken and Dressing

Sorry for the photo quality.  My lens kept fogging up and I was hungry.

8 oz. bulk sausage (sage recommended)
1 large onion, diced
3 large stalks of celery, diced
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 + 1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
pepper, to taste
8 oz. stuffing mix (or cubed stale bread)
1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth
2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, patted dry
2 tbsp melted butter (or use nonstick spray)

Preheat the oven to 350.

While the oven heats, cook the bulk sausage over medium-high heat until browned and crumbly.  Stir in the onion, celery, thyme, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and celery have softened (about 5 minutes).

Add the stuffing mix into the pan with the sausage, onions, and celery.  Stir in 1/4 cup of the chicken broth.  If the stuffing seems too dry, add the remaining 1/4 cup of broth.

Grease a 9x13 pan with the butter or nonstick cooking spray.  Spread the prepared stuffing into the prepared pan.  Top stuffing with chicken breasts, then sprinkle chicken with remaining 1/4 tsp of garlic powder and the paprika.

Cut a piece of foil to fit the pan.  Grease one side of the foil with the butter, then cover the pan with the prepared foil.

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove from oven.  Increase the oven temperature to 400.  Remove the foil from the pan; do not discard.  Place the chicken on a cutting board, tent with the foil from the pan.  Fluff the stuffing with a fork, then return to the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until browned on top.

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