Since childhood, chicken has always been a tasty meal, cooked in all its glory, many different ways. Along with my siblings and I, we ate chicken fried and roasted, and other ways too such as chicken a-la-king, a great way to use up leftover chicken. Our housekeeper, who worked for us from the time I was a year old, cooked and served all of our meals. For coloring and maybe taste, Ann, the maid, always added pimentos to the chicken a-la-king. I still do that occasionally, but not too much since I’ve discovered so many other luscious ways to eat chicken. And too chicken a-la-king is not as popular as it was when I was going up. Odd as it was, I never saw my mother cooking, or barely entering our kitchen. Still, I watched Mom at lunchtime pull succulent pieces of meat off simple boiled chicken bones since she was very particular about eating too much fat. Mom avoided fat to maintain her slim and beautiful figure. Coming from a poor family too, I suspect chicken was on the menu often.
For me, I began cooking chicken in the 70s when newly married and when stir fries raged and my cooking engines roared. I also stuffed chicken into casseroles with vegetables and sauces, and served it alongside creamy mashed potatoes. Since then, all forms of chicken– bone-in, skinless, only breasts, or just thighs, have transformed this simple meat into near-elegance with constantly new recipes arriving from chefs, cookbook authors, fresh techniques and creative ideas to make cooks choose chicken for economical and delicious meals. Now more than ever, various aromatics and umami accents penetrate chicken to add juiciness and make the chicken of today more savory and appealing.
Marinades and rubs, when added judiciously and in thoughtful and creative combinations have been in fashion lately and add nuanced flavor to chicken and other foods. None-the-less, some expert cooks and chefs believe that marinades are not worth using with chicken and other meats because, with research, they have discovered that these mixtures of oils, sauces and herbs barely soak into the foods, only perhaps a quarter of an inch! So, they feel why bother marinating; it’s a waste of time! However, still other cooks belief a marinade is beneficial. I’ve found marinades do add flavor to foods. You experiment and see how it works! I really would love to hear some of your results! Leave a message if you like or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share which method, marinating or rubs work best for you. I use rubs occasionally and like the results, but I like marinating more; I feel it truly works with all types of chicken, as well as beef and pork ribs; it enhances the chicken flavor.
1/2 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
4-6 scallions, green and white parts, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
4 strips of lemon rind, but not the white part
1/4 cup honey or light brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp fish sauce or hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
3-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
herb mixture – basil, dill, cilantro, thyme and oregano – fresh, about one quarter cup, not packed too tight
1 Mix all ingredients in a medium sized glass or ceramic bowl. Add 7-10 pieces of boneless skinless chicken thighs. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator. Turn a few times as the chicken marinates for 2-5 hours. Let the chicken come to room temperature for about 20 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2 In a roasting pan, which has been sprayed with Pam, or lightly greased, lay out the chicken, keeping the pieces from touching each other. Baste about a quarter of the marinade over the chicken. Leave the scallions in the pan too as well as the lemon rind bits, they add good flavor. Put the pan in the oven on the middle rack. Cook the chicken for 15-20 minutes on one side and turn it and cook for the same amount of time on the other side. don’t let the chicken get too brown. Check with a sharp knife to see that juices run out clear and there is no pink color. Before serving, remember to remove the lemon rind parts.
3 Serve the chicken plain with a simple salad and or a baked potato, and perhaps cooked broccoli accented with slivered almonds.