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Day 267: Applesauce Chicken, Buttermilk Smashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions and Honey-Balsamic Beets

I do believe I have achieved one of the most visually unappealing meals possible – the fleshy colour and mushy texture of both chicken and smashed potatoes did not make this an easy photo.

I was all set to make French onion soup tonight, to justify my 25 cent purchase of two soup bowls circa 1972 at a garage sale last summer, when I got a call just after noon to see if I was available to go do traffic on the Homestretch. My first reaction: what can I put in the slow cooker that will be done in 6 hours? And can any of it come from the freezer?

I remembered something I saw on S’s blog recently – chicken cooked in applesauce – and considering my plethora of apples, mushy apples, applesauce and other apple products, it seemed fitting. Plus our nice, non-carnivorous neighbours brought over a box of frozen chicken breasts they got as a freebie-with-purchase last week at Superstore. It seemed like good three-year-old food: chicken with applesauce. I wondered if I had any rhubarb in the freezer too, thinking it would go well with the chicken and apples and would make it a little more than just chicken cooked in applesauce, and I came up with a freezerbagful of pureed rhubarb that I had stashed away for a night of rhubarb bellinis that never happened.

So I put four frozen chicken breasts in, and about a cup each of applesauce and rhubarbsauce. And a bit of cinnamon, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. I forgot about the garlic and vinegar, and the chunk of onion I meant to put in was still sitting beside the pot when I got home. It cooked on low for 6 hours.

It still worked. It was a bit odd. W thought it was weird and refused to eat any. Mike liked it. I ate it, but thought I could have made better use out of those chicken chests. Awhile later when I was putting it away I picked at W’s and liked it much more; the sauce seemed to thicken up and the chicken was incredibly moist. It might be worth making using cranberry applesauce, or at least a few cranberries added to the mix.

The smashed potatoes were leftover from our Thanksgiving shoot (smashed potatoes are so much less pressure than mashed – just use thin skinned ones and you don’t even have to peel them), and the beets I had tucked in the oven to roast while I had it on for something else and had to be used; I cut chunks into a hot pan and drizzled them with balsamic vinegar and honey in a lazy attempt to recreate the balsamic carrots and beets I had thought at the time I’d be living on for the rest of summer. Winter too.


Buttermilk Smashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions

Recipe link

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September 23, 2008

  • Makes: Serves 4.


about 5 Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered or cut into 6

1 sweet onion, thinly sliced (or 2 shallots)

1 Tbsp. canola or olive oil

1 Tbsp. butter

1/2 cup(ish) buttermilk

salt and pepper


1Cover potatoes with salted cold water in a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.

2While potatoes are simmering, heat the oil and butter in a skillet and cook the onion over medium heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until deep golden.

3Drain potatoes, return to pot and coarsely mash with a potato masher, adding the buttermilk, salt and pepper. Stir in the onions and serve right away.

Makes: Serves 4.

(I do believe I have reached the double digits. Gulp.)


About Julie

9 comments on “Day 267: Applesauce Chicken, Buttermilk Smashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions and Honey-Balsamic Beets

  1. Dana mccauley
    September 24, 2008 at 3:59 am

    Ah, the precarious and unpredictable life of a reporter…..it’s not how it looks, I guess but how it tastes.

  2. Lana
    September 24, 2008 at 6:38 am

    I love how you “tucked” the beets into the oven to roast. I picture you in a fuzzy bathrobe giving them little kisses.

  3. robyn
    September 24, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Mmmmm, the leftover chicken would make amazing chicken salad sandwiches!!

  4. JCYN
    September 24, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Is Dana mccauley a friend?? Love your blog and your sense of humour!!!

  5. crockpot lady
    September 25, 2008 at 9:51 am

    hahahahaha! well, thanks for trying! 😉
    we really liked it. But then we also have never had a rhubarb.
    and I’ve never had a roasted beet. I need to get out more.

  6. Lisa (Homesick Texan)
    September 25, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Clearly, the secret to making chicken and smashed potatoes photogenic is to add beets to the plate!

  7. Melanie
    September 27, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    You can’t possibly be nearing the double digits… I am feeling this odd pressure as I really secretly enjoy reading this blog and laughing at the parallels to my own life!
    On the other hand, I really thank you for reminding me that even with meal planning and so on, throw together dinners (with a bit of imagination and experimentation) are the way that most of us really do eat and we shouldn’t feel super-pressured to come up with new and inventive meals for our families every day (which is how I used to feel). You’ve been totally inspiring, real, and a great resource for me Julie!
    Take care,

  8. Melanie
    September 27, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    And by “secretly” I don’t mean that I hide that I read your blog but that it is one of the secret little treasures of my day / week – only for me to enjoy and share with my dearest girlfriends!

  9. Patricia
    January 1, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I’ll never make regular mashed potatoes again! I had never tried with onions in them. They were part of our New Year’s Eve supper with filet mignon. Merci.


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