By Beth Bower
So. Five weeks and counting of staying at home and trying to be creative with dinner. Breakfast is toast, lunch is soup or a sandwich but dinner … that requires a little more thought.
Fortunately, my husband Guy and I like to cook. He creates recipes, I use recipes others have developed and manipulate them to fit our needs. And right now, our needs are easy, gourmet-style comfort food.
Gourmet-style comfort food – what does that mean?
It means taking an extra step or two to make meals memorable: adding tarragon or nutmeg to roasted acorn squash; sauteing mushrooms with wine, garlic, chives and broth or cutting corn off the cob and stir frying it with real butter, quartered artichoke hearts and a dash of dill. Comfort food meets gourmet, but easy.
And it means keeping it fun. For anyone who has listened to Guy’s weekly radio show — The Good Life — on KNSS, you know he preaches “food, wine and fun.” He’s been doing this for more than 30 years.
Some shows are devoted to exceptional wines. Mainly, he promotes the kind of wines you don’t have to know anything about other than they taste good and are a great value.
One of Guy’s favorite quotes is “All wines are good … some better than others.” And that goes for food as well.
Guy and I met in Spain in the Air Force, and most of the Spanish food we learned to love was pretty standard comfort food for Spaniards: paella, garlic shrimp, arroz con pollo and lots of vegetables. But we also ate amazing gourmet grilled steaks, lamb and goat braised in cazuelas and had big, white asparagus and roasted suckling pig. It was all new to us and then it became a part of our lives.
One of the dishes we’ve shared with many people over the years is Guy’s version of Spanish Chicken Thighs with Apricots and Olives. This recipe can be shrunk to serve two people with leftovers or ramped to a party dish serving 20. It’s nice served with rice, sautéed green beans with garlic and a traditional Ensalada Mixta (mixed salad with hard-cooked eggs, tuna and asparagus). For dessert pick up a store-bought flan, and you have the perfect gourmet comfort food dinner.
Guy Bower, a sommelier and wine educator, is host of “The Good Life” radio show on NewsRadio KNSS 1330AM or 98.7FM, Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m. Beth Bower is a food writer and the writer/producer of “The Pie Way … Kansas Style” documentary featured on KPTS Channel 8, and author of The Pie Way cookbook.
Spanish Chicken Thighs with Apricots and Green Olives
8-10 chicken thighs (a combination of thighs and breasts can also be used)
7 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely pureed
1/4 cup dried oregano
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup each dried apricots and dried cranberries
1 jar (10 oz.) large pimento stuffed Spanish green olives
1 jar (3.5 oz.) capers with juice
1 ½ cup white wine (such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc)
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 bay leaves
1/2 cup Italian parsley or fresh cilantro, finely chopped, for garnish
In a large bowl or plastic bag, combine chicken and all remaining ingredients except parsley or cilantro. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Arrange chicken-skin side up in a single layer in a large, shallow baking pan and spoon marinade over it evenly. Cover the pan with foil.
Cook about 1½ hours, then uncover, baste and remove some of the liquid to allow even browning. Raise heat to 400 degrees and place uncovered chicken back in oven for 30 minutes or until skin is crispy and brown.
Remove chicken from cooking pan to serving platter, add a bit of the pan juice and garnish with parsley or cilantro.
Manchego Potato Gratin with Chorizo
7-8 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup canned chicken broth
2 cups Manchego cheese, grated and divided
1 cup dry (not fresh) chorizo sausage, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 9 x 13-inch casserole dish and layer half of potatoes in pan. Top with half of grated Manchego cheese. Top with remaining potatoes. In a small bowl, mix cream, broth, salt and pepper. Pour mixture over potatoes. Cover and bake for 30 minutes or until potatoes pierce easily with a knife. Remove cover. Top with remaining cheese. Bake until cheese begins to brown. Top with chorizo, bake until sausage is browned and liquid has almost evaporated. Remove from oven and let sit 5-10 minutes until cool enough to cut into servings.