Sunday, September 27, 2009

Spicy Chicken and Oregano

Tonight I played with lighting, the camera, and recipes. The recipes were a success. The lighting and camera... not so much.

Look. Here's a peach I messed with. Not great. Not awful, but not great either.

I spent the afternoon making soups for the week. I have a carrot-cumin, asparagus-thyme, tomato-basil, and cold cucumber put up for our lunches and dinners. Of course, when you cook, you also spend an inordinate amount of time washing dishes, wiping counters, peeling things, and cleaning the sink. (sigh). There was no point to that. I just needed to whine a second. Thanks for your indulgence.

For dinner, I thought I'd lead with the carrot-cumin soup. Already done. Ta-da! I heated that up for first course.

For the main course, I got to use one of my new toys. Yesterday, our covered wagon trip to town to lay in supplies found us in Costco. We briefly discussed the merits of owning a food sealer, and while we were talking about using it for kayak camping, it jumped off the shelf into our cart. Phillip wrestled with it for a minute, but it was strong, and made a convincing argument, so we brought it home. It has a "marinate" setting that I was a little skeptical of, but thought "Well, hell, I have something to marinate tonight, and not enough time to do it right, so why not?" I have to say, it proved me wrong. I'm sure some food scientist out there would say "No, it didn't really work - the suction/expulsion method doesn't work - blah blah blah" but it sure SEEMED to make the chicken more tender and uniformly infused with flavor. We'll try it a few more times to see. The chicken recipe was from a Donna Hay magazine. (I love her stuff - simple, simple simple, but flavorful and enviably gorgeous pictures. I think she's like the Australian Martha Stewart, without the baggage.)
Anyway, the marinade was fresh oregano, chicken broth, lemon juice (too much, in my opinion - I cut it back and it was still pretty tart), red pepper flakes, fresh oregano, and coriander. This marinate setting on the food sealer sucks air out, then releases it, then sucks it out again. I guess the idea is to kind of massage the meat in the marinade. It did seem more tender and more infused with marinade flavor than usual, though. So maybe.

I made up a gratin for the side dish. I sauteed some onions, a little minced pancetta, and some mushrooms. I layered sliced potatoes, a little parmesan cheese, a little Comte cheese, (salt and pepper), then the mushroom/onion mixture, more potatoes, etc. Then I poured about a cup of chicken stock over the whole thing and baked it at 400 for about an hour. It turned out really well, if I do say so myself. (No, the picture didn't. The dish did, though.)

Here's dinner all together.

See? Sucky lighting. Bad photographer! Bad! No cookie!
I need to read the manual more.
So there's dinner tonight. It all tasted great, and now I have to go clean the #$%&*!! kitchen AGAIN. Then I tell you what. I'm going to BED. I have clean sheets and a book calling my name already. (Thank God it's getting dark earlier.)

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