This week’s recipe: Balsamic Chicken with Brussels Sprouts
Dear readers–of whom there are none–I am on jury duty. I was called for grand and petit jury at the same time, which is of course impossible, so I contacted the court and they told me I only had to go to petit. I was feeling pretty good about myself, but here we are, a week into it, and I see no progress in getting myself dismissed from a boring-ass, three-week-long case about asbestos and mesothelioma. Readers, I present to you:
THE MANY INDIGNITIES OF JURY DUTY
- Trying to get into the freaking building: Jury duty calls you for a certain time, but you absolutely have to factor in the amount of time it takes to get into the building. I understand why there needs to be security in a government building, but I don’t understand why they should only have two lines for hundreds of jurors, all trying to get in at the same time. If you want to know how state-of-the-art the security is, there are icons on the scanner indicating that it’s okay to scan your VHS tapes and floppy disks.
- Boredom: I am in a jury pool of 60 people. Thus far, voir dire has entailed questioning 20 of us 60, during which time the rest of us just have to sit there and listen. We’re not allowed to read or use electronic devices. Luckily we were not forbidden from falling asleep, which I, among many of my colleagues, have done. I know it’s hard to believe that I wasn’t on the edge of my seat while both the plaintiff’s and defense attorneys asked Potential Juror #1 about the sorts of self-help books she likes to read.
- Stupid, repetitive questions: The defense attorney, who was significantly more efficient than the plaintiff’s attorney, literally asked every potential juror if they had preconceived notions about asbestos. Had I been one of the people he was questioning, I would have said, “I know that this is a controversial stance, but I think asbestos is bad.”
- Questions clearly targeted for a certain audience: There is one potential juror who has got to be in her late 80s, if not older. The plaintiff’s attorney asked everyone else in the pool, “If I don’t make my case, are you comfortable not awarding my client any money?” But for this woman, who has spent the last 50 years doing childcare and missionary work, he asked “If you see my sick client, who is definitely going to die, and you are not convinced by my case, are you comfortable sending him home with nothing, knowing that he is sick and going to die?” Subtle. Almost as subtle as the defense attorney, who was clearly trying to strike this one guy off the jury because his wife had died of cancer a few months earlier. He said, “Considering that your wife recently passed, for which I am SO SORRY, is this case too raw for you?” The man said it was not. So he then tried, “Mr. ____, you’re a hardworking man, aren’t you? You were a cab driver, and now you drive an Uber. How much do you work?” He did NOT look pleased when the guy said that he worked five days a week, for seven, maybe eight, hours a day. So he said, “You’re the primary caregiver for your children. What time do you usually pick them up from school?” When the guy said 5:00, the attorney said, “But court often goes until 4:30. Won’t that be a burden for you?” The man said that it was not. I have to say, as boring as the proceedings were, watching this man deny the defense attorney the answers he wanted was quite entertaining.
I know it’s important to be tried by a jury of your peers, and I don’t think I’m too special to do jury duty or anything like that, but seriously, there are so many ways I can think of to streamline the process. It’s really not right to keep people away from their jobs and their lives when 60 percent of them won’t even end up serving. And if the President-to-be doesn’t have to pay taxes, why do I have to do jury duty? Hmmm?
So anyway, here’s some chicken and Brussels sprouts. When my sisters and I were young and we’d ask our father what was for dessert, he’d reply “Kumquats and Brussels sprouts!” Because of that, I avoided both of those foods like the plague for years. I’ve still never had a kumquat, oddly enough, but Brussels sprouts, when cooked properly, are amazing, thought they always smell like ass. Still, this was a super-tasty and easy dinner that I highly recommend to all.
Sheet Pan Chicken and Brussels Sprouts with Reduced Balsamic // Serves 4 to 6
- to 2pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, halved or quartered, if small (see comments and notes above)
- 4bone-in, skin-on chicken legs
- 2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 to 1/2cups balsamic vinegar
- Position an oven rack in the upper third of your oven and preheat it to 425ºF. Place the Brussels sprouts and chicken on a rimmed sheet pan. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season the chicken and sprouts all over generously with salt and pepper to taste. (I used about 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt.) Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat evenly. Spread everything out into an even layer, placing the chicken skin side up. Place pan in oven and roast for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway.
- Remove sheet pan from oven and preheat the broiler. Transfer Brussels sprouts to a bowl. Return sheet pan to the broiler, and cook until the chicken skin is evenly golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to a serving platter.
- Pour the 2 tablespoons of reduced balsamic over the sheet pan and scrape up any bits from the pan. Pour this mixture over the Brussels sprouts and toss to coat. Pour the Brussels sprouts mixture over the resting chicken. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.