My husband does not cook often, but when he does he approaches the job like a scientist in the lab. He has to have all the ingredients listed, and in the form listed. (If the recipe calls for fresh thyme, by golly, he's not going to substitute dried, even if it means another trip to the store.) He has to have all the right kitchen equipment. And, he has to have the kitchen to himself.
Actually, I think his insistence on sticking to the recipe e-x-a-c-t-l-y comes from his lack of confidence as a cook. But, he does get excellent results, so I can't argue with his methods.
Last night he was cooking for our friends, Thearith and Chenda. He fretted over what to make that would agree with the Cambodian palate and still please kids. In the end he settled on a menu I had clipped from the Star Tribune for one of Ina Garten's favorite dinner party menus: Lemon Chicken Breasts, Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts, and a Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake. Who wouldn't like that menu?
Ina claims that the whole meal takes half an hour to prep, but I can tell you that it took Phil and I a lot longer. (And we didn't even make the cake.) Of course, who can hope to compare with the woman behind the Barefoot Contessa?
The recipe for the Lemon Chicken Breasts is below. You can find the other recipes here. The chicken lived up to its name--it is extremely lemony--and it was extremely moist, which is something of a miracle for oven-baked chicken breast. We served them with the couscous and steamed green beans. (The green beans were my small contribution to the meal.)
Oh, and I should mention that it's hard to find boneless skin-on chicken breasts. So, Phil bought the skin-on, bone-in kind and took them to the meat counter at Lunds. The butcher sent him off to finish his shopping while he de-boned the breasts. Now that's service!
From Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That?
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tblsp minced garlic (9 cloves) (this is a woman after my own heart!)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 Tblsp grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 Tblsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp minced fresh thyme
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts with skin on (6-8 oz each) (I am more of a dark meat person, so next time I make this it will be with chicken thighs.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute, but don't allow the garlic to turn brown.
Turn off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme and 1 teaspoon salt, and pour into a 9- by-13-inch baking dish.
Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper.
Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck among the pieces of chicken.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is has reached an internal temp of 165 degrees, and the skin is lightly browned.
If the chicken isn't browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. (Don't skip this step, or the meat will not be as juicy!)
Serve with pan juices.