It is a fact that the less you work in the kitchen, the better your family will like it. For example, here is a little Mother’s Day card one of my girls made for me years ago. It has a fill-in-the-blank type of poem that the teacher copied the kids’ answers into.
About My Mom
What color is her hair? Orange
What color are her eyes? Red
How old is she? I don’t know
What does she cook best? Chicken and something disgusting
It’s clear from this that anything other than fries is the something disgusting. It’s also clear that more fancy work at the stove is not going to improve matters. This fact is a good thing when you are talking about getting it all done. You don’t have to feel bad because you didn’t put a lot of effort into cooking after working all day. What you need is a chicken recipe that you can use every week, and that will go with whatever disgusting (green) thing you care to pair with it.
Three things take up too much time in the kitchen, and when you dislike cooking as much as I do, you need to do these things as little as possible. They are
2. Reading recipes
3. Buying stuff you don’t already have in the house
The ideal recipe is flexible enough to work with basic principles and use whatever you have on hand. This one does that. It also dirties up two bowls and one baking pan, which is not too bad because if you don’t feel like cooking, it’s doubtful you’ll be thrilled with cleanup. This recipe is based on the one for Innocent Chicken in the wonderful I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken. It is not only still in print, but available on Kindle. My mother was a working mom who relied on this book and passed it on to me. It was written in the 60’s and contains directions such as “Let it cook on low for five minutes while you light a cigarette and stare sullenly into the sink.” I have altered the recipe to show how minor changes can allow it to work with what you have in the house. This also makes it taste a little different every time you make it so it doesn’t seem like you’re making the same old chicken over and over again. Not that your kids will care. And if your spouse liked cooking better than you, he’d be doing it, so he’ll keep quiet.
Every Week Chicken
1 chicken breast per person
Seasoning (Lawry’s seasoning salt, lemon pepper, Adobo, Grill Mates, whatever)
Some kind of liquid for dipping, placed in one of the bowls (beaten egg, milk, melted butter)
Some kind of crumb for dredging placed in the other bowl (prepared or homemade bread crumbs, Panko, crushed saltines, crushed cornflakes, crunchy fried onions in a can like those used for green bean casserole)
Preheat oven to 350.
Season the chicken with the salt, pepper, and seasoning.
Dip in the liquid.
Dredge in the crumbs.
If it is on the bone, bake for 350 x 30 minutes covered, then uncover and bake for 20 x 1 hour.
If it is boneless, bake for 350 x 30 minutes covered, then uncover and continue baking for another 30 minutes, still at 350.
Baked or prepared mashed potatoes, pasta with butter or olive oil, couscous or rice can all be good sides.
Green salad, baby carrots, or whatever veg is easy for you to make and that your family will eat works as well. Seriously, even with a houseful of teens, a bag of baby carrots dumped into a vegetable dish goes faster than any other vegetable I serve.
That’s it! One meal per week down, with 5 minutes prep and zero thinking and shopping time. Now while it’s baking you have time to:
1. read the paper
2. take a bath
3. play the piano
4. work out
5. play with your kids