Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Learning from mistakes

In celebration of Oestara, or the spring equinox, I made a recipe I thought I'd tried before: balsamic roasted chicken with peppers. (Since it's not pepper season, I just went with some onions.) Except that it turned out all wrong.

Following the instructions, I sauteed half a sliced onion until golden, then put that over a chicken leg with a drizzle or two of olive oil and balsamic. I put it in the 400°F oven for — wait, only 20 minutes? For chicken? Using two other cookbooks as reference, just to be sure, I reaffirmed my chicken-roasting knowledge: that the leg was going to take about 40 minutes to cook. Good thing I forgot to toss the minced garlic in there, since it would've burned. I decided to sprinkle the garlic on after the initial 20 minutes was up.

But when I took it out to baste, the vinegar had nearly cooked down into a crust on the pan and the onions were starting to look charred. No matter, I thought, and poured a little more vinegar over the chicken along with the garlic. Unfortunately, all the hoping in the world wasn't going to stop things from burning. Ten minutes later, the onions were black and stuck to the bottom of the pan and the garlic had an acrid smell that told me it was done for.

The chicken tasted great — once I'd pushed away all the burnt veggies and thrown them in the trash. I swear this worked out well the last time I made it. What I should have done, and what I think I'll do next time, is do the onions and balsamic strictly on the stovetop and put that over the (plain) roasted chicken parts.

In the meantime, there's a baking dish in my sink with a black mess caked to the bottom, soaking in hot water and baking soda.


Michael Doss said...

We've discovered quite by accident that until an onion is reduced to ash, it keeps getting a better and better flavor when cooking. But I can see how it'd be a problem when cooking it with something like chicken that needs its time.

Teresa said...

Onions sauteed forever are so wonderful. So are roasted onions. Onions that are sauteed and roasted, however, not so good.

sher said...

This has happened to me too. Roasting tow incomaptible objects can be quite surprising! I like to make huge amounts of caramelized onions and freeze them in portions. Then I take them out and add them to all kinds of dishes, including the roasting pan. It works out pretty good.