Entries tagged with “Chicken”.


Have you heard? It’s raining in LA.  I am sure my readers in Canada and New York and Chicago and Utah and Montana and Michigan and… everywhere else outside California, with real, snowy winters of your own, may not consider several consecutive days of rain in Southern California to be newsworthy, but around here it’s quite the story.  In a land where “winter” is marked by blooming camelias and perpetual tans, a bit of a drizzle on the Golden Globes’ red carpet is practically unthinkable.


I miss seasons.  When our rain finally comes, I revel in it.  The towering eucalyptus trees across the street broadcast their mossy, lilting scent over our house whenever a gust of wind wafts through their rainsoaked branches.  As I climb the stairs to our front door on a rainy night, I marvel at the scent, thinking this is what every candle and fabric softener has tried to mimic with fragrance names like eucalyptus rain.


Evenings this week have been chilly and damp as the storms wax and wane.  It’s perfect weather for a bowl full of something rich and spicy.  The kind of thing you’d describe as rib-sticking.  I’ve been particularly enamored with quinoa recently, and find it to be a lovely base for this quick, spicy chicken stew.  You might not use all the quinoa you’ll make here – toss leftovers with the ingredients for a chickpea salad for a profoundly filling lunch.  Serve the stew with extra sriracha to keep your ribs warm as you watch your snow, your rain, or your camelias.
(Keep reading Spicy Chicken & Quinoa Stew…)


I’m sorry to say that I’ve never had a fried Snickers bar.  Among the many inconveniences that come with my peanut allergy, I think the inability to eat something so uniformly described as “AWESOME” pretty much tops the list.  That, and the awkwardness that ensues whenever I realize food someone has just given me is peanut-laden only after getting it in my mouth.  There just isn’t much you can do to make spitting something out in your napkin look graceful or well-mannered.  Nor does the subsequent surreptitious wiping of one’s tongue with the same napkin ever achieve a quality you might associate with good upbringing.

So I can’t eat a fried Snickers bar.  Still, I’m tickled by the idea.  The increasing prevalence of Fry Daddies and the like isn’t helping anyone’s waistline, but it has fostered a hilarious environment wherein every eureka-like declaration of WE SHOULD FRY THIS is met with a hearty YEP!

I don’t own a Fry Daddy – I figure anything I do to make it more convenient to deep fry my food is probably a bad thing.  That’s not to say that I don’t occasionally fill a Dutch oven with oil and bang out some onion rings, but it’s just enough hassle this way to keep my love of fried bits in line.

Skillet frying is less cumbersome and less dangerous than full-throttle deep frying, but it’s still an absolute mess, both for your kitchen and for your insides.  Fried chicken, the best-known hero of the skillet frying world, is one of those favorites that I find myself making less and less frequently as I get, um, older.  If you had told 22-year-old Bria that she would find herself looking for baked alternatives to her favorite fried foods within the decade, she would have laughed and turned back to her experiments with fried cookie dough (verdict: not as good as it sounds like it should be).  And yet, here I am, giving you my recipe for totally fake fried chicken.


It has all the same elements on the front end – dry layer, wet layer, dry layer.  The cornflakes are so crunchtastically heroic that they don’t need any help from hot oil in creating a satisfying, crisp exterior.  The oil is kept to an absolute minimum – just what you need to keep things from sticking to the baking dish.  Plus, you don’t have to stand over the stove, babysitting a sputtering skillet. There’s no need to turn the pieces or check in as they cook; just pop the dish in the oven and go about cleaning up the kitchen or readying the rest of dinner.


You should be able to have the chicken nearly ready in the time it takes the oven to heat up, making this a handy entree with the requisite speed for weeknight dining prep.  Pick up a few packs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts whenever you find them on sale and wrap them individually in plastic for easy freezing/defrosting.  As noted, this recipe can be easily multiplied to suit your needs, though I would always err on the side of having more crushed cornflakes than you need so you don’t end up with extra milk-dredged chicken pieces.  Leftovers will reheat better in the oven than the microwave.

(Keep reading Oven-Fried Chicken…)


The first time I roasted a chicken, my dad talked me through it over the phone.  The conversation went something like this:

Dad: Is the oven hot?
Me: Yeah.
Dad: Okay, put the bird in the roasting pan.
Me: Mmhmm, done.
Dad: Now spray it with Pam.
Me: The pan, or the bird?
Dad: The bird - just give it a good spray all over.
Me: Got it. Now what?
Dad: Peel an onion, and just shove the whole thing inside.
Me: Inside…where?
Dad: The bird.
Me: In its butt?
Dad: We generally call that the cavity, but yes.  Pop it in.
Me: Are you serious?
Dad: Yes! It will taste good.
Me: Okay, one onion in the butt coming up.
Dad: I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.
Me: Go on.
Dad: Shake a little salt and pepper over the outside and stick it in the oven.  Check it in an hour.
Me: That’s it?
Dad: That’s it.

And that really is it.  You can get a delicious roast chicken with almost zero work.  If you’ve never cooked a chicken before, and if you break out in hives of OH MY G-D THIS IS SO COMPLICATED when you read the rest of this recipe, go ahead and try the Butt Onion method.  But if you are feeling at all adventurous (and by “at all” I mean on a “dimes in your penny loafers” level), try your hand at the brine and paste method I describe below.  It’s really, really delicious.  And the smells that will fill your kitchen will blow your mind.

This recipe is an absolute stunner if you are trying to impress someone with your cooking skills. It comes out looking like a million bucks, and your guests will be rendered speechless when they take a bite of the moistest, tastiest chicken they have ever had.  The brining will assure you very moist meat (heh) - just don’t overcook it.  I know the spectre of undercooked chicken and all its various evils can keep the best of us up at night, but a meat thermometer or instant-read thermometer is all the backup you need.  I highly recommend an instant-read for its speed, accuracy, and overall niftiness.  I came upon this one by way of Cooks Illustrated, and was impressed that it was both extremely functional and highly affordable.  Though not absolutely critical, it’s one of those pieces of equipment that can really streamline your cooking process.