Spain is known for having some pretty incredible food: chorizo, Mediterranean seafood, tapas, etc. However, it’s just not affordable or pratical to eat out as much as I’d like. Sure, it’d be so neat to constantly partake in the Spanish culture, sampling new foods and restaurants as much as possible. But I live here and life is not a vacation. Every time we move, normalcy sets in and that’s a good thing.
Well, in keeping with a boring and normal schedule, last night I made the “undeniably easy and fail-proof baked chicken” recipe given to me by my mother (thanks Mom!). This recipe has a history, a story. It is the very first dish I learned to cook on my own and it’s been happily feeding me ever since. I make this recipe all the time, just with different sides to keep it fresh and delightful. Along with sharing the secrets to this masterpiece, I’ll give you a first look at the inside of our home with a mini-tour of our kitchen and its treasures!
The first thing I do when I get home is slip into a pair of sweatpants and slippers. In public I do my best to look presentable, but at home, comfort is the number one priority. Following my change in attire, Matt sets-up shop in the kitchen, finishing up some last minute work on the computer, but keeping me company at the same time. This is pretty routine. The side I chose to accompany the chicken was a simple salad with ranch dressing. Ranch dressing is a non-entity in Europe. In fact, Europeans don’t seem to really put any dressing on their salad, and instead opt for some oil and vinegar. That is why we always bring a boatload of ranch seasoning packets back with us after a visit home. I know it’s not the healthiest of salad dressings, but it’s our favorite. We were in need of a fresh batch, so I whipped some together first thing to give it time to cool and thicken up in the fridge while the chicken cooked.
Onto the chicken. Seriously, the easiest recipe I can think of. Firstly, you use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Give them a rinse/wash and pat them dry with paper towels. Preheat your oven to 350° F (or in my case, 175° C). The essential ingredients you’ll need are olive oil, salt, and pepper. The rest is up to you. Isn’t that the best part? In a baking dish (big enough to hold the amount of chicken you’re making) spread a thin coat of extra virgin olive oil on the bottom. Sprinkle a layer of salt and pepper on the bottom so the underside of the chicken gets a bit of seasoning. I also like to sprinkle a bit of parsley for added depth.
Add your chicken to the dish and evenly spread a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil across the top (at first I just used my fingers, but now I use a little basting brush for ease). Now season the tops of your chicken with salt, pepper, and whatever other spices you’d like; I change it up every time. Last night I sprinkled my chicken with a bit of garlic powder, a bit of poultry spice, and some parsley. In the past, I’ve substituted parmesan cheese with a bit of parsley as my toppings. Yum. Bake until the juices run clear and the inside is no longer pink! I have a convection oven, so it took about 20-25 minutes. Voilà!
*Note: sometimes, halfway through cooking, I’ll drizzle some white wine over the top of the chicken for flavor and added moisture.
I can safely say that I have never heard one complaint from Matt when I make this, and he’s a super picky eater. In fact, I’m pretty sure I always get a “thanks Em! That was good.” Last night was no different. All in all, it took 10 minutes tops in prep work and then came straight out of the oven and onto the plate. Clean up is also pretty minimal, which is always a plus! So, while an array of perfectly seasoned meats fired to perfection call my name from the Spanish restaurants, it’s nice to have an easy routine with reliable results. I really love to cook, and I can be pretty adventurous and bold. But this is a great recipe to have in my back pocket…and now yours!