I ate chicken often as a child; my mother did too, but not because she cooked it, we were fortunate and had a housekeeper who cooked and shopped for our family. Mostly I recall eating chicken as a leftover in such dishes as chicken a-la-king over rice, probably served with a variety of canned veggies and a creamed sauce. Along with high end steaks and chops, chicken was on the menu often for dinner. I think that occured because my mother, as a child, ate chicken regularly since she came from a poor family. Growing up in the early 1920s and 30s, chicken was economical for families; whole chickens were selling for 35 cents! My grandfather, Jake, my mother’s father, was a tailor and didn’t make much money and didn’t always have work. My mother stated this fact in letters she wrote to her brother Abe who was in the United States army in the 1940s when she was short on funds and wanted to borrow money from him. She said she coundn’t ask her Dad because he was not working then. But too, what helped my mother ‘s eating habits evolve was that she married my father when she was nearly thirty, and he made a good living as a baker; he owned and operated six bakeries.
Childhood food memories certainly last, stick in our minds for nearly a lifetime, speed us back in time, as if on a train, “stopping” at stations as we “smell” the aroma at each stop. This is the case even as we discover new foods, ingredients and recipes. At lest this has been my story. I’ve enjoyed, really relished the opportunity to eat new food combinations these past several decades. Chicken is one of those foods which offers me the opportunity to reach new heights of fun and discovery in the kitchen! Some discoveries come from cookbooks and the internet, but other ideas use tidbits of information from those places, but new designs and schemes appear in my mind (and gut), as I flash on fresh methods and food combinations to create yummy and eye-appealing dishes! That is how this current recipe came to fruition.
Also, I’d love to hear from others about about their favorite modern or old time chicken dishes that they served or are serving to their families? Tell me too about the origins ofthe recipes? Share with me what you might do that is different than mine?
INGREDIENTS Serves 4-6
3 lbs. chicken parts – bone-in, skin-on thighs, legs, breasts or any combination – about 8 pieces, excess fat removed, patted dried
1 head green cabbage, core removed, cut in half, quartered, sliced in long half-inch pieces, keeping many parts whole and flat if possible
1 Tbsp olilve oil
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp butter, melted, divided
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained, and slightly warmed
2 carrots, sliced half inch
4 scallions, coarsely chopped
2-3 cups cooked rice, slightly warm
1 Set the oven to 450 degrees. Use either a large cast iron, oven safe skillet, or a 9 x 13 oven safe pan with 2 inch high sides. Spread the tablespoon of oil and one teaspoon of the butter around the pan evenly. Place the cut cabbage on the bottom, filling all the spaces fairly well. In any bare openings, place the carrots. Scatter the cut scallions all over the top of the vegetables. Sprinkle salt and pepper over all.
2 Rub the 2 teaspoons of oil over both sides of the chicken pieces and place them on top of the vegetables, leaving a slight bit of space between each piece. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Add the garlic, toward the end of that cooking time, as you spread it among the nooks and crannies of the chicken pieces. With the accumulating juices from the bottom of the pan, baste the chicken now too and continue to bake another 15-20 minutes. Add the soy sauce, and water chestnuts. among the chicken pieces. Add and spread one more teaspoon of melted butter atop the chicken pieces. Also, stir the vegetables some beneath the chicken too. If the chicken is getting too dark, cover with alumnium foil.
3 After the two baking periods, stir the vegetables a little again beneath the chicken, and turn the chicken over and bake about 10 minutes so the other side turns slightly brown, or , if possible, adjust your oven to low broil, and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, watching it carefully. Test the chicken for a temeprature of about 165, or poke a large piece to make sure no pink color juices are running out; it should be clear. If not, cook the dish for another 5 minutes.
4 Remove the chicken to a large dish, keep warm by covering with alumnium foil. Add the warm rice, soy sauce and water chestnuts to the hot pan. Stir well, scrapping up. fro mt he bottom and sides of the pan bits and pieces of carmalized onions, carrots and cabbage. Cook gently on a very low oven for 5-10 minutes .
5 Adjust any seasoning, adding more if desired, combine with the warm chicken and serve. A cool green salad works well alongside this savory dish.
TIPS AND TWEAKS
- Other vegetables, like a few celery stalks, 2 or 3 bok choi’s, or a chopped red pepepr, all cut up, work well beneath the chicken. Even zucchini or possible butternut squash would work well under the chicken, just check the butternut squash through the whole cooking process and make sure it is tender. Don’t add too many veggies beneath the chicken, otherwise that might takeaway or interfere with the taste of the overall dish.
- Add cayenne pepper before turning the chicken at step 3. Be careful of the amount of pepper, depending on your diners.