chicken dinners

It is slightly silly of me to be posting these things during Lent, a time in which I eschew meat. Still, I was pleased with both of these meals and want to share them despite the fact that I was too scatterbrained to do so til a time when I wouldn’t be eating ‘em for awhile. Make ‘em now, or bring ‘em out again post-Easter.

So. Fabulous Chicken Dinner Number One.

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One component of the dinner I’d made spontaneously earlier in the week, and threw on the table, delighted with my domesticity for having a homemade loaf of bread casually hanging around the house. That bread was Mark Bittman’s Yogurt Bread, an amazingly simple and delicious specimen. No yeast to fiddle with. Whole grain. I didn’t have cornmeal, so I used all whole wheat flour, plus a bit of vital wheat gluten for tenderness. I also didn’t have whole milk yogurt, so I used nonfat with a few glugs of olive oil. It was delish. 

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For another side, I baked butternut squash with just butter and cumin on top. This is something my mother came up with. Not the most intuitive combination, but so so simple and good.

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As an extra special treat, I had some leftover heavy cream in the fridge from a decadent somethingorother Steve had made earlier, so I made creamed kale! This was SO GOOD! I just sauteed some onion in a bit of olive oil, wilted in the kale, then cooked it down with some heavy cream and nutmeg. I don’t think I’ve ever made really creamed anything in my life, and I will tell you now that the rubbish with the skim milk and flour does not compare.

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And finally, of course, the piece de resistance, the chicken itself.

Step 1: Buy a good chicken. This one was from the farmer’s market. It wasn’t cheap (duh) but I’ve opted to eat less meat and feel more confident about where I buy it. Plus, it just tastes more chicken-y. If you like super bland boneless skinless chicken breast (and no judgment here, because I’ve gone through phases of my life where I’ve preferred it; I just like a little gaminess now) it might actually be too much for you. This chicken was already in pieces. You can also, of course, buy a whole chicken and butcher it yourself.

Step 2: Egg dunk it. I mixed up 2 eggs and a few glugs of milk.

Step 3: Bread it. I mixed together breadcrumbs (just regular, no need for fancy panko), paprika, and grated parmesan

Step 4: Bake it. I used a broiler pan, and sprayed it generously with a layer of olive oil cooking spray. Then I added the chicken and sprayed it even more generously with the cooking spray. Then I used a 400 degree oven. Baking time depends 100% on the size of your chicken pieces. Predictably, the thighs took longer than the wings, which were done pretty fast. Small chicken means very little wing meat, oh but what good wing meat it was. And there was an extra crispy crunchy skin to meat ratio. Nom nom nom.

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If I’d bought a huge meaty grocery store chicken instead of a lean farmer’s market one, I’m sure it would’ve taken longer too. I find the point where it starts smelling extra delicious to be a pretty good indicator of when it’s done.

And oh, was it delicious.

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Crunchy, flavorful, moist and tender. I hadn’t ever made oven fried chicken, but was so craving junky food I went for it, despite my skepticism of how good it could be compared to Popeyes. I was delighted to’ve been proven wrong.

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Steve’s plate, for the money shot, because I give him great big portions from the get go 🙂

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This wine, a gift from friends, was great with it.

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It is very rare that my plate looks like this at the end of a meal!

I just got in there, man. Fingers and teeth and everything. It was deeply satisfying!

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For a day when you have a little less time to devote to cooking, another, simpler chicken dinner.

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I roasted this chicken, which is what I more typically do.

I decided that I was too lazy to brine it (and lacked the right size bowl anyway), but decided to experiment with salting it, which I’d heard recommended. So I rubbed a good amount of sea salt around its skin, and let it sit for awhile so the skin dried out (all the better to enable it getting wonderfully crackly later). Then I rubbed the skin with olive oil, paprika, and dill, and let it bake in the oven (without basting, which I’ve come to believe, based on a lot of chefs’ opinions I’ve heard, isn’t worth the amount of cold air it lets in the oven). The moisture level was comparable to brining, and the skin was yummy!

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These roasted veggies were a tasty mixture of carrots, sweet potatoes, and turnips. Just roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper, and balsamic.

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That white stuff is a fun little casserole doodah. I took leftover rice and cooked it up with some onions and kale in chicken broth I’d gleaned from poaching the bones of the previous chicken, above. Cheese on top, of course.

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Steve is always so sweet about patiently waiting for me to take pictures of food before he eats it.

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