February 8th, 2008

Every End Is a Beginning

I was going through some old computer files from the 1990s today and came across one of my favorite "fan mail" messages:
When I received this message, I was surprised to be getting a response to a three-year-old piece, particularly on a topic that had made such a rapid retreat into the past. But now, twelve years after getting this e-mail, I feel closer, in some ways, to the heyday of grunge than I did in 1996. It has been said by many, far better than I can say it, but the perception of history is a long, strange trip.

Vaguely Moroccan Chicken

I just finished eating my portion of what turned into a delicious -- and easy -- dish, invented this evening while I unsuccessfully tried various spells to make the kitchen floor clean itself:
• Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (or whatever the equivalent is in more ten-centric places)
• Get out a relatively deep oven-safe dish with a lid, such as a Le Creuset cassarole or, for the more impecunious, one of the larger white Corningware products
• Cut up two onions and place in the bottom of the dish
• Peel and section four or five tangerines and add to the dish
• Add a goodly number of raisins to the dish as well
• Dust liberally with cumin and lightly with "sweet" spices such as mace, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg
• Add ground red pepper according to your preference
• Splash with white wine, taking care not add too much liquid
• Add a few drops of almond extract, if you have it, or perhaps some amaretto or another nut-based liqueur; I did the former myself
• Mix everything in the dish together as evenly as possible
• Arrange the pieces of a cut-up chicken over top of the mixture
• Cut two lemons in half, squeeze about half of their juice over the chicken pieces and their bed, then place the four lemon halves upright inside the dish, spaced evenly apart
• When the oven is preheated, place the dish in the oven -- leaving the lid off -- and turn it down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
• Cook for approximately twenty-five minutes per pound of chicken
• Meanwhile, prepare a rice dish. I used a rice cooker and a mixture of white, brown and wild rice, which went very well with the main course
• When the chicken is done -- the innermost portion of the breast should register 180 degrees Fahrenheit on a meat thermometer -- turn the oven off and place the cover on the dish
• Let the chicken gently "stew" for another twenty to thirty minutes in the still warm, but turned-off oven
• Remove from the oven and serve
• Be sure to scoop liquid from the bottom of the dish, as well as the tangerines-onions-and-raisins mixture, and spread over top of the rice
• Say "Mmmmmmm" as you consume the dish and, if you want, send me a psychic murmur of thanks
This recipe is good enough that composing this entry made me crave seconds, even though I'm full. And perhaps even thirds!