This week, I promised my boyfriend that I would make a fussy but delicious baked chicken breast meal with lemons, tomatoes and kalamata olives. It is the kind of dish that makes me spend a long time in the kitchen, cutting and chopping. It is really the kind of meal that is best suited to a weekend night, not an after work night. I really wanted to make such a dish but many factors conspired against my being able to fulfill the promise of fussy, fancy chicken so if you got to my blog by typing in a search for chicken with lemons, tomatoes and kalamata olives, I must apologize. That will have to wait for another day.
Bone-in chicken breasts were supposed to be on sale this week. That fact is what prompted my frugal Virgo personality to steadfastly plan and plot to make such a precise dish. I arrived at the store on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I guess all of the people who frequent my favorite store after Thanksgiving all decided they needed chicken since they must have been sick of Turkey by Sunday. Who knew that chicken would be so much more popular than fish or red meat? I’m sure there were extenuating circumstances that would explain such a weird-ass phenomenon, but when I asked the butcher where all of the chicken was, I got the kind of blank stare that makes you wonder if the person you are talking to is going to begin to drool a bit before they keep on staring at you in a catatonic silence. For some reason, there were whole chickens, but the butcher made no apparent leap in reasoning to offer to cut me some breasts from a couple of birds. I could tell that if I suggested such a thing, I would be in the store for a very long time so I risked asking him to cut one bird into serving pieces. He was accommodating. I got a whole bird. I could make the planned recipe from a whole bird instead of breasts, so I continued on with my plan.
Monday went by and I was too tired to cook. Tuesday…very tired and unmotivated but I finally realized that I had to do something or else I would lose the bird. It would be such a waste to not cook it and have it go bad.
I don’t really know why our generation of home cooks insists on making fussy food. Whenever I hear my friends talk about making food for dinner, it is always something that takes effort. Our mothers didn’t cook like that. They had to support families. They were just as busy as we are, but maybe they were smarter about it? My mom made food that was easy but tasted good. She made food that didn’t cause a huge mess and was simple to clean up after. Many of my friends and I insist on being food network stars or celebrity chefs in our own minds. If it isn’t fancy or complicated we can’t be bothered to do it.
Tonight, I just couldn’t do that. You know… make something you would be proud to serve to visiting dignitaries sort of meal. I fell back on an old standard or two and I cooked like my dear old mom. I made my rendition of something she would cook for us often. Dry herb crusted roast chicken pieces. I served them with crusty cubes of roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes and a healthy side of steamed Brussels sprouts. Easy. I am going to give you an un-recipe for the chicken. I can’t give you precise measurements for the ingredients. Sorry. This is one of those few things I can cook with my eyes closed without a recipe so there is no recipe. I think you should be able to follow the un-recipe and be able to make my mom’s delicious chicken for your family.
Herb crusted roast chicken
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Squeeze lemon juice over all of the chicken pieces. Drizzle soy sauce over all of the chicken pieces. You don’t want too much soy sauce, just enough to cover the chicken without leaving a puddle on the bottom of the pan. The soy sauce is your source of salt for this dish so try to balance this ingredient. You want the chicken to be wet with lemon and soy sauce so that the herbs will adhere to the chicken. Sprinkle a generous amount of onion powder then garlic powder over the chicken so there is a nice base coating on each piece. Season with Pepper. Lightly sprinkle each piece with oregano. Sprinkle a very, very generous amount of thyme on each piece of chicken; it should look like the chicken is pretty well coated with herbs when you are done. Roast the chicken for 50-60 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees when you test the chicken breasts. Serve with your favorite veggies.