I find that summertime, for those of us who like to cook, is spent grabbing those few cool moments to cook items ahead of time in preparation for meals. These past few days have been quite hot for Vermont, so I grab time in the morning before 7 a.m. or after the sun goes down to do my cooking. One evening after 8 finding myself home alone, with a little leftover Chardonnay and Pandora blaring my favorite ’70s and ’80s music, I was in the kitchen, cooking again. Happy as a pig in . . . well, you know what.
Plans had been made to have a cold picnic dinner the following evening, so I decided to cook everything the night before so it would be easy to pack. This oven fried chicken recipe, from Eating Well magazine, circa 2003, I’ve been making every summer since it was originally published. (I recently received the August magazine, which is their tenth anniversary issue, and this was one of their top chicken recipes!) My father’s fried chicken was my birthday meal of choice growing up, and today I still feel a pang when I eat something other, yet still delicious, for my birthday dinner. But of course, as we learn more about healthy cooking, this is a perfect recipe to satisfy that craving.
The melting beans are somewhat my recipe and somewhat not. One morning, driving to work early, I was listening to a podcast of “The Splendid Table,” and Lynn Rosetto Kasper was interviewing Crescent Dragonwagon, who has a new book out on beans. She talked about cooking green beans at a very low heat and how a man proposed marriage he loved them so much! That was enough endorsement for me to try them. Granted, I was sleepy and wasn’t paying that much attention, but what I remembered, I made a few days later, and yes, they are incredible! I’ve made them since then on an almost weekly basis, and I wondered how they would be cold. Still delicious, and yes, wonderful enough to propose marriage! With virtually no work aside from trimming the beans, slicing some garlic, and a few tosses here and there, they are a great accompaniment if you are making a big dinner. No worries about over cooking; in fact, the longer you cook, the better they are! Please note, I’ve only cooked this in my cast iron skillet; I’m not sure how this would translate to a non-stick skillet or other type pan. If you try, please let me know how they turn out! And be prepared, they sometimes don’t make it to the table; they’re delicious right out of the pan!
Oven Fried Chicken
Originally from Eating Well magazine, 2003.
½ cup nonfat buttermilk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon hot sauce (Cooks’s note: I use sriracha sauce–zowie!)
2 1/2-3 pounds whole chicken legs, skin removed, trimmed and cut into thighs and drumsticks (Cook’s note: I used about 2 pounds of just chicken legs and did not remove the skin.)
½ cup whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Olive oil cooking spray
Whisk buttermilk, mustard, garlic and hot sauce in a shallow glass dish until well blended. Add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or for up to 8 hours.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set a wire rack on the baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray.
Whisk flour, sesame seeds, paprika, thyme, baking powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Place the flour mixture in a paper bag or large sealable plastic bag. (Cook’s note: I use a pie plate for this part, although a bag would probably be easier.) Shaking off excess marinade, place one or two pieces of chicken at a time in the bag and shake to coat. Shake off excess flour and place the chicken on the prepared rack. (Discard any leftover flour mixture and marinade.) Spray the chicken pieces with cooking spray.
Bake the chicken until golden brown and no longer pink in the center, 40 to 50 minutes.
Melting Green Beans
In a cast iron skillet, add about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and 2-3 very thinly sliced cloves of garlic. Add about two cups of trimmed green beans. Turn the heat to the lowest setting, cover, and leave it. Don’t toss for at least 30 minutes, if not longer. Once you stir, you’ll notice the beans starting to “melt,” and the garlic getting brown. Just leave, stir occasionally, until you’re ready to serve. Nothing can go wrong with this dish by cooking it too long!