Monday, February 26, 2007


Let's talk chicken. Jess likes to call it "devil meat." He doesn't much like chicken as a rule. I like it more than Jess does, but I am picky about my chicken. I don't much like the boneless, skinless chicken that America has seemed to so happily embrace. Skinless, boneless chicken has made America lose its taste for what chicken really can be. It doesn't have much flavor and it's difficult to get flavor into it. The flavors lie in the skin and the bone, people!

At any rate, I made a chicken dish that I had made once before; one that Jess said he would let me make again; so I did. And I am going to tell you how I prepared it, so that you might prepare it, too, and learn (or remember) how chicken is supposed to taste. Don't want the skin? Fine, pull it off before you eat it. Don't like the bone? Use a knife and cut the chicken from the bone. You'll be rewarding your wallet by buying chicken with the skin and bone intact, and you'll be rewarding your tastebuds with the deliciousness that you can only get from chicken that isn't de-boned. And don't let the 'baked' part of what I'm about to show you fool you. The chicken comes out with a nicely crispy skin, if you like that, and it's very moist, not mushy.

So here goes:

Begin any chicken dish by soaking your chicken pieces in a brine for 15-30 minutes. For each quart of water, I use 2 tsps. kosher salt, 2 tsps. brown sugar (or in our case, an equivalent amount of Sweet and Low Brown), 1/2 tsp onion powder, and 1/2 tsp freshly grated pepper. Brining doesn't take long and you will be surprised at the flavor and moistness it imparts.

While the chicken is brining, prepare fresh spinach: rinse about 3/4 lb. of fresh spinach (don't believe the bag when it says 'triple-washed' still has sand in it, and you need to rinse it. I use a salad spinner to rinse and then drain it), then pile it into a buttered casserole dish. When I say 'pile', I mean it. Stack it up! It's going to cook down so much you won't believe it. 3/4 lb will make a nice amount for 2-3 people.

Now prepare some cream of chicken soup using 1 can of soup, 1 chicken bouillon cube or equivalent amount of Better than Bouillon(if you use Knorr, use 1/2 cube), 1 can of milk or half-and-half, a pinch of white pepper, a pinch of poultry seasoning, and a pinch of celery seed powder. Whisk all together. Then pour the chicken soup mixture over the spinach, and then spread it evenly over the entire surface of the spinach.

Preheat your oven to 350.

Meanwhile, make some seasoned salt: cut fresh rosemary and fresh sage very finely to make 1 tsp. of each. Combine in a ramekin with 1 Tbsp. kosher salt. Rub the salt into the herbs to release the flavor.

Remove chicken from brine. Rinse the brine off with water (that's important!) and pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place chicken atop the spinach.

Using the seasoned salt, lift the chicken skin and lightly sprinkle the herbed salt under the skin, being careful not to tear it too much - you want the skin to hold the salt under the surface - and lightly sprinkle the herbed salt on top of the skin, too.

Now you're ready to bake. You will bake this for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until chicken reaches an internal temp of 160 degrees F. If you have a convection oven, use convection only during the last 20 minutes of cooking.

I have a Trivection speed-oven, which will cook this dish in 25 minutes.

When the dish is finished, it will be nice and browned and the spinach will be flavored with the chicken soup and drippings from the chicken. Heaven.


At 4:08 AM, March 18, 2007, Blogger Shenida Weave said...

I should share some of my recipes with you... but they'd all make you FAT FAT FAT... I might be in San Francisco now, but I still cook like a Southern Belle... although not quite like Ms. Paula Deen... even I have never fried butter... that's just IGNUNT!!!


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