Thursday, May 3, 2012

A secret ingredient for delicious chicken thighs

The other day I found a really good deal on chicken at the store. The meat aisle is not the place where you'd usually find me in a grocery store, but I just happened there on accident and saw this large package of organic chicken thighs for a good price. What the hell, I could use a little more protein in my diet, I thought. Admittedly, I made this decision fully mindful that cooking meat in not exactly my forte. I simply don't know how to go about it. I think of meat as a necessary evil, because despite the ethical dilemmas about eating animals that we otherwise claim to love, it's challenging to put together a wholesome diet without meat. Especially if you're training.

So I reluctantly decided I was going to cook this thing. Now, I don't have a lot of memories of cooking happening in our household as I was growing up. Not many recipes I can summon now to guide me. In fact, there are only three culinary experiences I remember. I have vague memories of my mother grilling mushrooms one day when I was too young to speak. This might have not even really happened. The other thing I remember my mother making for me is strawberry mousse, which was and still is my favorite dessert. So really, my mother's cooking was infrequent when I was growing up and it's only now, in her middle age, that she's grown quite fond of cooking and developed a fascination for exotic Asian foods. But there is one more memory I have from my early years gravitating around my mother in the kitchen, and it's the most important one. The principle that helped my mother get away with so little actual cooking and still feed me every day is this: garlic makes everything taste good.

I took this in mind as I contemplated the mound of meat thawing in the fridge. By the time the chicken was ready to be cooked, I was entirely bereft of enthusiasm and would have paid someone to cook it for me. Lunch time was approaching though and I didn't have much time to whine, so in my predicament I turned to the ingredient I knew makes any food a winner - garlic. You won't need much else to make this. If you have chicken thighs in your fridge and don't quite know how to tackle them, here is a quick and tasty recipe. And really, this turned out so good that I mentally thanked my mother and her culinary wisdom. Here is what you need:

4 chicken thighs
5-6 garlic cloves (or more, you can never have too much garlic!), halved if they are large
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil

If your meat has a lot of fat, remove as much of it as possible. Then sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides and rub it gently into the meat. Place the chicken in a pan and place the garlic around or into the folds of the meat. If your chicken has the skin on, put the garlic between the skin and the meat. Drizzle with olive oil. 

Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. Halfway through, flip the meat so that it gets a nice golden color on both sides. By the way - this goes very well with mashed potatoes and green beans. 

I've made you hungry, haven't I?

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