Roast Chicken with Apples & Leeks

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We went to a lovely dinner party a few weeks ago.  I envy L, the hostess,  for her ability to make a dinner party seem so effortless and because she seems to have a repertoire of main courses that miraculously appear on the dinner table without her rushing around the kitchen once her guests have arrived.  We've had three dinner parties at which she's made the main course and each time she prepares dishes that require little to no attention and thus are perfect for parties.

I, on the other hand, always choose labor intensive and fussy dishes for parties and typically they do not work out as I'd like.  I also have a fear of cooking chicken.  Is it still pink?  Is it dry?  Does it actually taste like anything?  Until a few weeks ago, if I wasn't roasting chicken, I was likely avoiding it entirely... until I got L's latest dinner party recipe.  

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This dish takes no more than 10 minutes to prepare and you are likely to have the ingredients in your kitchen already.  I find that I can put this together and slide it into the oven, change out of my work clothes, sort through the mail, and, miraculously, dinner is ready!  You have to flip the chicken once while it roasts, but otherwise it requires no attention and the end result is moist, flavorful chicken.

Note - this recipe is ripe for adaptation.  I've replaced the pears with apples.  Both are great, but I prefer apples.  I think you could replace leeks with onions, but I love the taste and look of leeks, plus they don't make me cry when I cut them!  You can easily increase quantities in this recipe, just be careful not to overstuff the pan (note that in the picture below, I crowded a few too many apples and pears into the dish - I'd stick to 2 total in a 9x11" pan and you can always roast extras in a separate side dish).  I haven't tried this with skinless or boneless chicken meat yet.  I think the skin and bones keeps this dish flavorful and you don't have to eat the skin in the end.

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Roast Chicken with Pears & Leeks
Adapted from Sassy Radish
Serves 3-4 if you use thighs, 2-3 if you use drumsticks (we've been eating this for dinner and then taking leftovers for lunch the next day)

Ingredients
6 chicken drumsticks or 4 chicken thighs (keep the skin on for cooking) (these portions are for a 9x11" baking dish)
2 apples, thinly sliced (pears are also delicious)
2 leeks, thinly sliced (the white part only – discard the top green, stringy part and be sure to clean the leeks thoroughly)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup orange juice, and perhaps more to coat the bottom of the pan if ½ cup is not enough
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Preparation
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Wash and pat dry the chicken parts and place in a 9×11″ glass or ceramic baking dish. Surround the chicken with the apples, leeks, and garlic.  Pour orange juice and olive oil over it and season with salt and pepper.

3. After 20 minutes, turn the chicken over onto the other side and return to the oven for another 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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