It’s here, it’s finally here.
Yes, I’m referring to Election Day (and if you haven’t voted yet go do it!).
Let’s be honest, this has been a tough year for America. The good news is, one way or another it all ends tonight (or early tomorrow morning).
But if you, like me, are going to be suffering crippling anxiety all day there’s only one thing to do: pour yourself a beverage, take a deep breath, and cook something deliciously distracting.
(You could also build a gingerbread White House, which is another thing I’ll be doing tonight.)
A few weeks ago all my dreams came true when I got to
meet OK FINE attend a Q&A with Ina Garten. As if that sentence wasn’t perfect enough, Julia Turshen was interviewing her. I almost forgot it was happening and was on my way home from work when my mom texted me being like “Omg tell me all about it!” and I turned around and all but sprinted to Barnes & Noble.
The price of admission was a signed copy of Cooking for Jeffrey which I obviously needed to own regardless. I made my purchase and joined a legion of Ina enthusiasts paging through our cookbooks as we waited for our hero to arrive.
Can I just say – I am obsessed with her.
This was basically my first time seeing her live because I don’t watch Barefoot Contessa. Maybe that makes me a bad fan but I do own every cookbook and have memorized every dedication to Jeffrey – I’m planning on cross stitching them onto pillows (My Home Is Wherever Jeffrey Is; For Jeffrey, Who Makes My Life So Easy; For Jeffrey, Who Makes Everything Possible).
She is seriously so adorable and so humble, basically the antithesis of Martha Stewart. Like, what other famous chef would admit that she’s a nervous wreck 15 minutes before her company arrives? Or that everyone forgets to serve a course once or twice, and then launch into the story of that time she was cooking for Chuck Williams (of Williams-Sonoma) and left the lobster in the oven?
Then there’s the fact that when she was asked who she looks up to she answered Jeffrey (obvi) and Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift! And then provided a 5 minute thesis on all the reasons she admires her.
Ina, you are amazing and you do a fantastic impression of Julia Child (boeuf bourguignon!).
One of her favorites from this most recent cookbook is the skillet-roasted lemon chicken that I’m trying to share in my own painstaking and tangential way.
I’m starting to unravel the mystery of “Why Callie Cannot Cook Edible Chicken” and this recipe was a critical development. Chapter 1: In which Callie discovers organic chicken is a must. Chapter 2: In which Callie realizes the beauty of chicken thighs over breasts.
Skin-on chicken is a must here so while you don’t need to use thighs, I must insist you use a cut with skin. Personally we thought the thighs were incredibly juicy.
And the sauce – it’s lemony garlicky perfection. Then there are the onions and lemon slices that have cooked in chicken juices and sauce, becoming caramelized and super flavorful.
If you need a pick-me-up tonight, this is your dinner. While it’s in the oven, you can watch election coverage. However, I recommend looking up pictures of Ina & Jeffrey on the internet, making your cookie White House, taking a shot or two and practicing deep, calming breaths.
Skillet chicken with lemon white wine pan sauce
(Adapted from Cooking for Jeffrey, reproduced here)
A note on pan sizes: Ina recommends a 12-inch cast iron skillet. I only have a 10-inch and was fine, although I only had room for 1/2 an onion and I was using chicken thighs as opposed to a whole chicken.
A note on salt: I find a lot of Ina recipes to be very salty so I’ve decreased the salt here from 1 tablespoon to 2 teaspoons. I think you might even get away with 1 teaspoon especially if you’re salt averse.
2 teaspoons dried thyme or minced fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1 lemon, halved and sliced ¼ inch thick*
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced ¼ inch thick
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 chicken thighs or 1 (4-pound) chicken, backbone removed and butterflied**
½ cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
1 lemon, juiced
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Pour the olive oil into a small measuring cup or bowl and stir in thyme, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
Distribute the lemon slices in a cast-iron skillet and distribute the onion and garlic on top. Place the chicken, skin side down, on top of the onion and brush or spoon with about half the oil and herb mixture. Turn the chicken skin side up, pat it dry with paper towels (Ina notes that this is very important!), and brush it all over with the rest of the oil and herb mixture.
Roast the chicken for 30 minutes. Pour the wine into the skillet being careful not to pour it on the chicken, and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, checking after 10, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 155 to 160 degrees.
Remove the chicken from the oven, sprinkle it with the lemon juice and cover the skillet tightly with aluminum foil, allowing to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with cooked lemon and onion and drizzle liberally with pan juices.
*: Cooking for Jeffrey has a lovely side note on technique: Slice of the ends of the lemon, then slice it in half lengthwise. Slice each half into 1/4 inch thick half moons.
**: I love you Ina but seriously, unless you’re going to your butcher and having him remove the backbone for you, save yourself the trouble and get chicken parts.
Skillet-roasted lemon chicken, Cooking for Jeffrey; reproduced here: https://barefootcontessa.com/recipes/skillet-roasted-lemon-chicken