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The Unnatural Cook

a chronicle of weekly meal plans from someone who can't just throw a meal together

You will never see a roast chicken on these pages. There is something about roast chicken that, well, grosses me out. I know it is a staple in most households because it’s easy and healthy, but not in mine. So I thought I should have my own chicken staple: kebabs. They could be broiled in bad weather & grilled in good. They are healthy and fast.

I chose a Mark Bittman recipe off the internet from How to Cook Everything. I find him a little fussy (he has too much time and interest for the kitchen, I have not enough of either) but the technique seemed good. First of all, he used boneless thighs which I thought was brilliant – won’t dry out, more flavor. The recipe called for sumac, a lemony middle eastern spice. My grocery store didn’t have sumac but they had something called Zaa’tar: a mixture of sumac, salt, thyme & sesame. The first three of those ingredients were in the Bittman recipe so I though it would be a perfect way to simplify the process. The one weird thing the recipe did was call for two onions : one to marinate with (then discard) and another to cook with. Why use two onions? Fussy. I followed the recipe (because that’s who I am) but I won’t next time. One onion for both jobs.

I served the kebabs with a second new recipe, wild mushroom rice pilaf from Real Simple. Ridiculous good.

The kebabs are (as my mother-in-law would say) “a keeper.” I have found my chicken staple and I’m already dreaming of an Indian version – broil the kebabs and find a way to make an easy tikka masala sauce. I think it’s a good sign, a basic technique that inspires me. This is the new me talking, the one who may be ready to allow some natural cook behaviors to replace her unnatural ways….

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