Brighten My Day

I love this time of the year. The leaves crunch under my boots as I walk along and sweater weather is just about a perfect description. I can use my oven as much as I'd like without sweating my family into depression. Our dinner table becomes a veritable cornucopia of flavors. That said, sometimes it seems like it's a bit uniform. Similar colors. Similar flavors. Even similar textures. Sometimes, you don't need a lot to mix that up a bit and one of my favorite ways to do just that is by making a batch of chimichurri to spoon onto my plate:

Chimichurri is a tart, spicy, very bright sauce that is amazing when it's paired with some of fall's most wonderful meats. I adore it with the baked chicken seen above (recipe seen below!). It's also quite amazing when nestled alongside roast pork. Even slow-cooked ribs or a properly seared steak will thank you for providing such a wonderful sidekick. What's more, it's incredibly easy to make. And, if you're like me, parsley will be one of the few items still hobbling along in the garden or planters outside. Suddenly, there's a little kick, tang, and color on your plate and the amazing meal you had set up is just a little bit better.

As I said, I love pairing chimichurri with baked chicken. And one of the reasons I love doing so is that baked chicken is about as easy to put together as the chimichurri is! You wouldn't look at it and think it's one of those no-fuss meals, but that's exactly what it is. While the chicken takes about an hour to bake, putting it together is as simple as arranging the chicken on a baking sheet, seasoning it as desired, and letting the oven take care of the rest of it all! Not hard to see why I love this time of the year, is it?

Quick Chimichurri

  • 2 c. packed parsley leaves
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 c. rice wine vinegar

Puree all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Let the sauce stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.

  • Yields: 1 1/2 cups sauce
  • Preparation Time:5 minutes

Baked Chicken Thighs

  • 4 chicken thighs -- bone in, skin on
  • Your favorite seasoning blend

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Rinse the chicken thighs in water and pat dry with paper towels, as needed. Cover the bottom of a baking sheet or roasting pan with a nonstick baking mat or coat the pan with nonstick spray. Generously sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces with your chosen seasoning blend. Arrange the pieces skin-side up in the baking or roasting pan.

Bake for 30 minutes at 400°F. Then lower the heat to 350°F and cook for another 30 minutes more until the juices run clear (not pink) when poked with a sharp knife or the internal temperature of the chicken is 170°.

Remove the baking or roasting pan from the oven. Place the chicken thighs on a serving plate. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

  • Yields: 3-4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes plus 1 hour baking