Yesterday, I originally wanted to cook beef stew, but it turned out that my parents were out. And so I intended to cook it today instead. However, it was only in the afternoon that I began my research for beef stew. As it turns out, making a really awesome beef stew without any short cuts (e.g. bottled broth) requires at least 5-6 hours of cooking/preperation.
That demanded a huge change in the planning. Immediately, I went online to research other potential dishes and found that making baked chicken would be a great idea.
Today’s dish was totally experimental. It did not follow any of the recipes which I have seen online. Instead, it is really a combination of recipes seen over the internet and gut-feeling about what works and what wouldn’t.
The plan was to make a one-dish meal that only required the use of the oven, and will provide the necessary nutritional requirements without any compromise. And so, I decided the best course of action was to bake the chicken with herbs and include a wide variety of vegetables, including those rich in carbohydrates, e.g. potatoes and pumpkins, to fill the stomach.
I was quite lucky to find fresh dill herbs sold at the nearby supermarket. Back home, the chicken was seasoned with olive oil, dill, pepper, salt, and some rosemary. After which, the chicken received a nice hand massage to ensure an even distribution of the herbs, salt, and pepper. Cherry tomatoes were then stuffed into the chicken. The rest of the tray was then filled with slices of pumpkins, potatotes, brocolli, chery tomatoes, and carrots. These vegetables were seasoned with olive oil, basil leaves, some salt, and some chilli powder.
Here’s how it looks like on the tray after all that seasoning:
However, the chicken is not ready yet! To enhance the flavours of the chicken and vegetables even more, I covered the chicken with fresh lemon slices:
Here’s an upclose of the dish:
Now it’s ready to go into the oven!
After baking it for 45 minutes at 200 degrees celsius, here’s the result:
More close-up shots of the mouth-watering, sweet-smelling delicious dish:
How did the dish go?
The chicken was soft and tender. What’s more, the skin did not become hard and dry as it would be in most cases of baking. The baking caused the lemon slices to slowly release its juices onto the chicken skin, thereby keeping the top layer constantly moist and wet, while also being constantly enriched by the citrus flavours of the juice. What’s more the baking made the vegetables taste so much sweeter, and of course, its taste enhanced by the use of herbs and spices.
What was more amazing was the gravy that formed at the bottom due to the release of fluids from both the chicken, the lemon slices, and the vegetables. It was so good. A beautiful harmony of many flavours – sweet, sour (from the citrus), salty, and many other indescribable flavours that were the result of the herbs. It was also a harmony of both hard and soft. Though the sides of the vegetables were exposed to direct heat, and thus became hard and crispy, the insides were so soft, tender, sweet, and juicy. It was delicious! The best part was eating a baked cherry tomato. Put one into your mouth, take a bite – and immediately, a sweet warm stream of tomato juices will begin to gush in your mouth, activating all the senses on your tongue.
What an awesome dish!
For a dish that was quite unplanned, and decided on the go based on intuition, I declare this dish a huge success!
I look forward to cooking for Wednesday: a really chunky mushroom soup with shredded chicken, and buns flavoured with herbs and spices. MMMMmmm…