Thursday, January 14, 2010
Easy Chicken Dinner
Some days I get to four p.m., and despite the fact that I plan daily menus every week, I have nothing planned to cook. (Note: never plan to eat leftovers for dinner. This will only mean you will have magically eaten all the leftovers in the house prior to that planned dinner). Other weeks I want comfort food, or don't feel like putting much time into cooking dinner.
At these times I always turn to my favorite easy (but doesn't look that way) dish: Chicken and Cream of Chicken Soup Gravy. Yeah, so it could use a more snazzy name, but comfort food is so good it doesn't need a deceptively exciting name like potatoes dauphinoise (scalloped potatoes) or fois gras (yuckity yuck yuck). I'm a little embarrassed to be posting a recipe that uses a cream of chicken soup can - I feel that I belong in a community cookbook from the fifties and up, where it seems every recipe involves some sort of cream of ____ soup. But I can't help it, this dinner is just that good.
Chicken. The recipe, specifically the gravy, tastes better if you use at least partially boned chicken, so I usually do one Chicken Quarter (leg & thigh) and one breast, since Avram loves white meat. I grew up making this with only drumsticks, and thought that was great too.
Cream of Chicken Soup. One can works for a thigh, drumstick, and large breast. Up the cannage according to your chicken. I often dilute the soup a little for more gravy - I'll use a quarter to a half can of milk (I can't even be bothered with a measuring cup, this recipe is so low-key), and mix it with the soup in a separate bowl first. Also, I will sometimes add rosemary to the mixture, if I'm feeling high class. This time I added two cans of soup, just because I love gravy so much.
Take the chicken. Thaw it in the microwave, or in the fridge for a couple days before hand if you're really prepared and awesome, unlike me. Pull off the skin if using a drumstick or thigh. I use a paper towel to grasp the skin and pull it over the end of the drumstick - this prevents my hand from slipping off the raw skin, and is very effective at getting the skin off.
Put the chicken in a casserole dish, and cover with the soup. Cook at 350 degrees until done, anywhere from 45 minutes for breast only to 65 minutes for bone-in meat. When preparing this meal for the pictures, I was too lazy to even thaw the chicken all the way (hence the skin on in the pictures), so I cooked it for an hour and a half. No matter - the chicken doesn't get dry covered with all the good gravy.
I usually make mashed potatoes to eat with this meal, but this time I made rice, and loved the combination. I also love peas with this.
This is a simple, down home meal, but I love it (have I said that enough times yet?) My girls love it too - Lydia kept on serving herself extra gravy. In college I served it to an apartment of guys in my ward, and they could not stop exclaiming over the dish. I told them how to make it, and they went on to try all sorts of exciting new variations, like adding cheese. I promise it'll change your life too - and if you eat it often enough, even your waistline.
Please stop buying the yucky large peas, and go out, this very minute, and buy Petite Green Peas, known in England as Petite Pois. They are small and yummy and vibrant and your tastebuds will thank you forever. Now when I eat normal peas I think they taste like Lima Beans. Lima beans, may they never pass my lips again, would probably taste like...fois gras. At my local grocery store these yummy peas even cost the same as the regular peas, but even if they cost more, they are completely worth it. Specifically look for "petite," and not just fresh, or whatever. I never had these until England, and I've never looked back since then.