no more rubber-chicken dishes
Some years ago, I watched a famed chef say she hated chicken because she found it boring, it did not have too much flavor and well - it was too 'blah'.
I was sad, because it is one reliable protein we eat so often in my house, and I find it frightfully versatile.
Also, because I realized that a professional's take on such an easy grocery staple actually reflected the limited knowledge of spices and flavors - and also about converting and adapting a basic meat into multiple delicious eats!
Fast-forward, a few months ago, a friend and I had a conversation about how tiresome it becomes to cook each and every night, especially with two full-time jobs, an infant and kids who may not like to eat everything. Although I empathized, she thought I was kidding. Another dear friend jokingly said to me that since I was a chef, I should have no trouble whipping up fancy meals… we probably eat fancy meals all the time.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Believe me, there are plenty of days when we have left-overs, re-imagine a dish or an ingredient and of-course, the sometimes dreaded “guess what I found” (or life-saver, depends what it is).
Having a work-from-home situation does not relieve me of cooking fatigue, boredom or the flat out wanting cereal for dinner on some nights. On a typical day, there are only a few times when I am not at my desk and working: housekeeping / showering / gardening, at meal-times, during carpool / chauffeuring or when I am asleep. Or when I am cooking.
For most people, cooking is motivated by three reasons –
(a) because we need to eat
(b) if we are trying out a new recipe or
(c) we or someone we love is *really* craving something.
I used to cook as a stress-buster, not anymore and my ridiculous life is not unlike my friends.
But, we eat home cooked meals at every meal, except for a weekly lunch eat-out while we are running errands, or on a special occasion. Every minute I am in front of the stove is important. It has to be a multi-tasking adventure and if my counter space falls short, that is a good thing.
I don't want you to need a new cookbook every time you want to cook . . . I want you to enjoy cooking - with your loved ones!! But I do insist you find the best possible meat you can, so your efforts are rewarded in the long run.
To keep ahead of my madness, I make this oven baked chicken practically every week. It is perhaps the most versatile component of my kitchen. It requires minimal prep. and is so incredibly useful, you will be making it in bulk quantities. I am sure you will enjoy making this wonderfully easy dish… and find many more reasons to have enjoyable, home-cooked weeknight meals.
Versatile Baked Chicken
1/8 cup cooking oil
½ tblsp ginger paste
½ tblsp garlic paste
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper powder, to taste
½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper, optional
½ tsp garam masala, optional
½ cup unflavored yogurt (Greek yogurt is best)
Salt, to taste
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 lb uncooked chicken breast, trimmed into bite sized pieces
Mix in all the ingredients of the marinade. Toss the chicken pieces into the marinade and let it marinate for 20 minutes.
Grease a baking pan. Transfer the chicken with the yogurt and marinade to the baking pan in a single layer and bake at 400’F for 35-40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Transfer into a separate container and store in the fridge until ready to use.
Pictured above, minty grilled chicken kebabs from my book: A Dozen Ways to Celebrate.
Use This Baked Chicken In
Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
Spicy Mexican Chicken Soup
Chicken Salad (with Mayo)
Spicy Waldorf Chicken Salad
Basic House Salad topped with Shredded Chicken
Makhani Chicken (recipe in A Dozen Ways To Celebrate)
Chicken Kebabs (pictured above)
Mac-n-Cheese Bake (!!)
Pasta varieties: With Marinara or Alfredo Sauce
Easy Chicken Tarts
Cold Chicken Sandwiches
Grilled Cheese with Shredded Roasted Chicken
Chicken soft / hard taco’s
Chicken Stuffed Puffs
So, what will you make today?
If you are looking for EVEN more dishes that only use chicken,
check out my friend Cynthia Graubart's latest book: Chicken
& find her on her book tours!
She is lovely and so are her recipes.