Cooking in a rut - a chicken recipe to bring forth the love for the stove
I sometimes find myself bang in the middle of a culinary rut, you know? This is mostly true when my head is full of other stuff - the writing of novels, namely - and I can only think about the next chapter, obsessing over how the narrative is going and if shit is making sense at all or is written in a far too confusing way. Having no one to read along as you write is the true bitch, as one is never the best critic on one's personal work.
I miss my teen years, in that sense. Not on anything else, mind you. I liked being a teenager, but I wouldn't want to go back to it, I am rather happy with my forty three years of age, thank you very much. But I miss having the kind of friendhips where we would read through each other's lousy short stories and dreadful poetry and love every single line of it, yet still being able of turning in an honest opinion, without fear of offending.
Nowadays I have no one to turn to in search of enlightment, in search of a good, strong critique, unbiased by either loving me or hating me. I can read through and through my writings many times over, and some days I will feel like I am the next Stephen King or the next Tolkien, others I will feel like I am the worst ever wannabe writer on earth and should simply just stop, give it up, stop wasting my time with that, and on very good days I will have the presence of mind and the clarity to really see some of the stuff that aren't good enough and that should be dealt with or ripped off completely.
And yet, I will always think I'm biased. Because it's my work I am re-reading day in day out, and I will never be unbiased towards it. That's about all I really miss regarding my youth: having people who would do that much for me. And that brings me back to the rut part of my cooking these days. Where I have no imagination whatsoever for cooking, because my imagination is occupied elsewhere.
Some days I feel I cannot be bothered with the mundane - despite being a food blogger and working really hard on this blog, despite loving food and cooking, I do know I regard writing as something akin to divinity, whilst everything else is mundane - and simply have no idea of how to counter that, and come to terms with having to put on a meal that is nourishing and savoury at my table.
I find myself ending up cooking the same ingredients in the same old tested manner, and feeling bored to death as I munch into dinner or lunch, thinking that it's the worst meal I have ever managed to put on my table, but lacking the will to put in a little more effort into it. Because my mind is elsewhere and cannot be brought out of those fantasy worlds I create.
But with this chicken I did manage to put in a bit of an effort and come up with one cool dish to present. It was rather fingerlickingm if you know what I mean. And you'll need:
- half a free range chicken, cut into chunks
- a can of simple button mushrooms
- one red onion
- two cloves of garlic
- half a dozen sundried tomatoes
- a glass of white wine
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- cilantro to taste - use large quantities!
- two heaped spoonfuls of mustard - use more if you like!
Start by chopping your onion and garlic and frying them in a glug of good olive oil. Add the chicken and allow it to gain colour, so use a high heat for searing the skin. This helps release all the juicy flavours. Add the chopped up sundried tomatoes and allow them to sear as well, but not for long. Turn down the heat and freshen up the sizzling pan with a glass of white wine, and season with a handful (half of what you have) of roughly chopped cilantro, salt and pepper. Put a lid over the pan and let the chicken cook away until nearly done. Now add the mushrooms, and if it's looking a little too dry, add a small glass of water. Let simmer gently for about ten minutes and then add two heaped spoonfuls of mustard - I like Dijon. with a wooden spoon make sure the mustard mixes well into the juices and covers every inch of the chicken. Let it cook for another ten minutes, take off the heat and allow to sit for five minutes, while you chop the rest of the cilantro. Scatter this onto the chicken and serve either with runner beans or white rice, whatever's your poison!