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February 4th, 2010:

Cooking Essentials: Beautifully Rendered Basics

Cajun-style chicken

ChickenPlated2Cooking Essentials is a beautifully designed book from a cookbook club I used to be in. It presents what it promises: fundamental techniques and principles of cooking.

I wanted something easy and undemanding. It’s been a long week, and my energy was low. So I opted for Cajun-style chicken, CajunSpiceMixturewhich is about as simple as you could hope for: Blend several spices with some olive oil, rub the resulting paste on boneless skinless chicken breasts, and pan-cook them until they’re blackened and delicious.

Scott mixed the spice coating while I got a panful of collard greens started. Once he’d rubbed the spices onto the chicken I CoatingWSpiceheated a pan, then started to cook. The recipe says to start the breasts on high heat and cook them for up to 3 minutes on one side, then turn them, lower the heat, and cook them on the second side for up to 6 more minutes or until they’re done. Which worked out just fine except for the “done” part; I ended up cooking them for about another ChickenInPan10 minutes in all, turning a few times, cutting into the center of the thickest breast at intervals until the last cut showed cooked meat in the middle rather than gleaming translucent pinkness. The exterior was certainly nicely blackened by the time we were done.

I served the chicken with some sauteed collard greens. It was ChickenDonedelicious: spicy without being overwhelming, and with a good texture despite cooking for longer than advertised. And it was so easy, we’re sure to try this again, or perhaps the variation suggested with fish.

Verdict: Success. This will go into our repertoire.