Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chicken Sahara

I was clueless in the kitchen when I married my husband. The first dish I tackled was chicken. I called my mother to ask her how long to cook the chicken. She gave me the time and temperature for roasting a whole chicken. I smothered those poor chicken breasts in the gray gelatinous blob that is cream of mushroom soup. The logic behind the cream of blob soup was based on my mother-in-law telling me that if you covered meat in a sauce, it won't dry out. My in-laws came over for this momentous occasion. A full hour later, I pulled the shriveled chicken breasts out of the oven and found dried-up bags of sand. It was awful. My father-in-law promptly named the dish "Chicken Sahara" and every time since then that I've cooked chicken, it has jokingly been called Chicken Sahara.

After lots of practicing and reading lots of cookbooks, I finally learned how to cook a few things. Roasted chicken is a wonderfully simple dish once you know a few basic things about it. This is my go-to recipe for chicken breasts that will be used in another dish, such as a salad. When serving chicken breasts as the main course, I prefer more a more flavorful dish.


Chicken breasts
Olive oil
Lawry's salt and black pepper or
Mrs. Dash seasoning or
spices of your choice

For however many chicken breasts you are going to cook, the basic instructions are the same. Preheat the oven to 425. Trim the fat and skin off of the chicken breasts. Drizzle about 1 teaspoon of olive oil in the baking dish for each chicken breast. Season the chicken breasts with Lawry's salt and black pepper, or with Mrs. Dash, or lemon pepper, or whatever in your pantry looks appealing. Season the chicken on both sides and then place in the baking dish over a teaspoon of olive oil. Put it in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Turn on the oven light and look through the oven door after about 25 minutes, pretending that you can tell how done the chicken is by looking at it.

Some things I've learned about this very easy dish over the years:
1. If you forget the olive oil, it won't matter. Store bought chicken breasts are pumped full with enough water that the chicken breasts won't stick to the bottom of the dish.
2. If you forget to season the chicken, it had better go into a dish that has alot of flavor, because unseasoned chicken is very, very bland.
3. You can use butter as the fat for cooking the dish, but it really doesn't add much to the chicken.


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