The braised meats, roasted vegetables, and Baby Yoda-approved soups that will guide you through the holidays

Braised Chicken with Apples and Cider

Photo courtesy Aran Goyoaga

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Annabelle Breakey

Crank Up That Oven This December

Now that December is here, I’ve been giving my oven a workout with a slew of recipes for braised and roasted meats and vegetables. There’s something very calming about the hiss and pop of a roasted chicken crisping in the oven, accompanied by the smell of lemons and shallots caramelizing. Those brown bits are the best part, of course, and the key ingredient in a great pan sauce. Why is that? We have the Maillard reaction to thank for that, the chemical reaction that occurs when carbohydrate molecules and amino acids are heated. Discovered by and named after French physician Louis Camille Maillard, this chemical reaction is what gives roasted meats, bread crusts, coffee beans, and other foods their rich, deep flavors — even more so than caramelization, a different reaction that requires sugar to occur. This has been your scientific kitchen moment for the day: So, crank the oven up to at least 250 degrees Fahrenheit and get to roasting this December.

—Ellen Fort, food editor

Maya’s Corner

Photo courtesy Aran Goyoaga

Time to Break Out the Cable Knit Sweaters and Cider-Braised Chicken

There’s one dish in this month’s edition of Recipes You Should Be Cooking that I’m particularly excited to make: Braised Chicken with Apples and Cider. The recipe comes from Seattle-based Aran Goyoaga, a chef and author who perfectly captures cozy winter moments (like this ideal dinner party set-up) on her Instagram @cannellevanille. Basically what I’m saying is she makes me want to put on my finest cable knit sweater, listen to undisputed Christmas queen Mariah Carey, and braise a pan of chicken thighs. (Be sure to save the leftover pan drippings, which you’ll stir and scrape to cook leeks, shallots, garlic, and thyme.) If you’re not in the mood for chicken thighs, this cable-knit-and-cooking scenario works for any of the recipes from our December roundup. May I suggest this garlicky White Bean Gratin or perhaps these Walnut Shortbread Cookies With Flake Salt and Citrus?

—Maya Wong, assistant editor

Live from the Sunset HQ:

Photo: Disney

27 Winter Soups Baby Yoda Is Probably Drinking in His Little Bowl

If you’ve been watching The Mandalorian on Disney+ or browsed the internet in the last week, you’ve probably come across adorable baby Yoda. So little, so wise. But the real question is: what’s inside his tiny ceramic bowl? Here are 27 warming winter soups he’s probably noshing on that you can make tonight, too. Is it Italian Chicken Sausage and Artichoke Soup? Maybe some Thai Chicken Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Gai)? What soup is in there, only he knows.

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Looking for more inspiration? Head over to Sunset Recipes for our fall cooking highlights.