First, brace yourself for some early 90’s cartoon references.
Ok, as for the recipe, let me say that these two are absolutely delicious recipes on their own. I would definitely make them again.
The chicken is great. The celery root and onion make for a fine side dish, so you really don’t need to serve anything else. My very best friend chicken fat makes another appearance, so you know I’m happy. The red pepper flakes keep it from being too rich. Nothing gets burned or weird.
The acorn squash is spectacular. Nutmeg and acorn squash are a natural combo. There’s something wonderfully fall-like about it. I would make this as a side dish for Thanksgiving. The lemon zest is interesting and bright. It keeps the squash from dragging into that too rich territory that Thanksgiving sides often veer into.
But that’s not what makes this a great meal. It’s the combination of the two. When their powers combine they create a delicious synergy…a Captain Planet of meat and veggies, if you will. Look it up, kids. Honestly, I don’t know why the magazine doesn’t suggest making them together. They normally don’t miss an opportunity to show you how the recipes can go together. From a cooking standpoint, they are both made in the oven at the same temperature. That’s huge. How many times have you looked at two recipes only to find out that one is cooked at 325 and the other at 400? Too many times. And the chicken cooks for a longer than the squash, but not by too much. That gives you just enough time to prep the squash while the chicken starts cooking. Then there’s the lemon zest. They both get lemon zest on top. The lemon on the chicken connects the flavor to the lemon on the squash. Finally, the squash acts as your starch for the meal, while the chicken takes care of the protein, fat (read: schmaltz for life!), and aromatics. I recommend these on their own, but I really love them together.
I just realized that I enjoyed the episodes of Captain Planet much more before actual Captain Planet showed up, so this isn’t a great metaphor for this meal. I liked to see all of the ethnic stereotypes try and work it out for themselves. It seemed like a cop out to have Captain Planet swoop in and fix things, even if he was sort of part of them…I guess. Did he exist or were they imagining him as a way to explain their own actions? Does anyone remember if other people could see him? If you want to fall down a wikipedia rabbit hole, here it is. All that aside, the powers of these recipes combined are greater than my confusion about the cartoons of my childhood.