Tastes Like Chicken {roasted chicken thighs}

Without going into too much detail, Monday was one of those days where I was glad I had the makings of a comforting, familiar dinner. I don’t know about you, but when someone crashes their car into your front yard, bringing a tree and a few shrubs along for the ride, I always tend to go straight for the roast chicken and the wine.

Considering that Monday is a work day, it’s hard to find the time to work 8 hours, get the car out of your shrubs and roast a whole chicken. So, I use leg quarters. I’m a dark-meat kind of gal, and that isn’t even a reference to my love of hip-hop. Leg quarters are the perfect way to create a quicker version of a whole roasted chicken that is juicy, tender and cheaper than just about any other cut of chicken you can find. Don’t be afraid of bones and skin – it’s what makes things taste good/like actual chicken rather than Jim Perdue’s “product” as he calls it.

To make the chicken, I preheated my oven to 425° which, because of our cheap-ass appliances, takes approximately 3.5 hours and warms the house to a nice Bikram-yoga-esque feel. During that time, I try to stay hydrated and head outside to gather some sage and rosemary from the garden. Give the herbs a chop, or not if you’re using dried, and rub those sexy little thighs down with some olive oil, salt, pepper and the herbs. Toss them in a Pyrex and cook at 425° for about 45 minutes or until a thermometer reads 165°.

This 45 minute time-frame is just right for cooking rice too – which I did. Now, I’m going to digress for a second here – stay with me. There’s a point. I grew up in a family that cooked. Food was always important, dinners were eaten together (and generally with a slew of friends that showed up too) and we experimented with things that not a lot of people were cooking with at the time. My mom had me making profiteroles at 12 years old, for Christ’s sake… we took food seriously. Which is why I’ve been wondering recently why on earth we consistently ate boil-in-bag rice and boxed mashed potatoes. Why????

Cooking rice without the assistance of my favorite Uncle, Ben, until recently was something I didn’t understand. RICE IS EASY TO COOK. Duh. I think everyone knows this. Rice is easy and the joke has been on me for years. Maybe that’s it. Maybe my mom has been playing the world’s longest, posthumous practical joke. No one ever expects the long con.

Working my way back to dinner: we bought a huge bag of brown and wide rice from the farmer’s market recently and have been eating that with just about everything. Like most (all?) rice, the ratio of liquid to rice is 2:1. I cook ours in vegetable stock and water and add salt, pepper and olive oil and occasionally the random herb. It takes a while – 45 to 55 minutes – but it’s well worth it.

I also cooked up my favorite vegetable, broccolini, in my half-ass way. I do a fake blanch, which is guess is more of a quick boil-steam (don’t you love how official these terms are? I’m so intimidating), wherein I bring about 1/2 cup of water to boil in a sauce pan and add the trimmed broccolini and cover for about a minute. Then I dump out the water, crank up the heat and throw in some olive oil, red pepper flakes, a clove of garlic and some salt and pepper in the pan with the broccolini and sauté it for about 5 minutes. At the end, I squeeze half a lemon in there to finish things off. I want to eat it now.

Everything came together in under an hour, including a really weird gravy. We were out of chicken stock at home, so I thought I’d try to make a pan gravy using veggie stock. Don’t do this. Please. I thought it tasted terrible, but my sauceketeer actually made it edible by adding about a tablespoon of Dijon mustard at the end (good idea). Honestly, though, if you don’t have chicken stock (or a cunning saucesketeer), just forego the gravy.

Wash it all down with a glass of wine. That is, if you didn’t drink it all immediately following the “incident” in the front yard that afternoon.

Off to wait for a satellite or a piece of space junk to land on our house… happy snacking.