Monday, July 13, 2009

Roast chicken for the culinary challenged

(For those who are wondering or perhaps, feeling a bit disappointed with the change of tone in my blog, here’s a quick explanation.

I’m taking a distance from writing about socio-political issues. I’ve come to realize that there are many blogs which speak of these issues with greater authorities and most of the time, it becomes repetitive and I don’t think I have more valuable opinions to offer. Besides, I’ve learned from some wise friends of mine that it’s important to nourish the soul with some of the simple pleasures of life.

So, unless I feel strongly about specific issues,  I’ll be writing more about lifestyle. I would still like to hear your thoughts on this and hope that you might enjoy reading it.)


I’m not famed for anything except one. I’m a bad cook. Trust me. Been there, done that and still a bad cook. I didn’t really start cooking seriously until I got married. I figure that if I were to be a dutiful Asian wife, I need to start feeding my husband. I ended up feeding our previous dogs more.

"My mom hates sushi because she doesn't believe in paying someone for not cooking!"

Jamie Buchman, Mad About You

Well, it would seem that I don’t even qualify for “not cooking”.

I used to try really hard, like buying cookbooks, watching cook shows and then got really excited trying out what I had learned. I always visualized that my cooking would turn out exactly as it had appeared on the pictures or TV screen. (Big mistake…big mistake!)

Most of the time, it ended up as a complete disaster. The chicken would always be undercooked, the potatoes overcooked, the omelette too salty, the risotto too moist, the flour dough as hard as a rock, so on and so forth. Sometimes, I would burst out into tears, feeling completely devastated with my culinary handicap. What upset me the most was that I really tried hard.

There comes a time when I just had to admit that I simply can’t cook and so, I stopped trying. Believe it or not, as soon as I stopped planning the day’s menu, scrutinizing cookbooks and visualizing the results, my cooking miraculously got better.

So, in order to prove it to you, here’s the recipe and photos of what I cooked tonight. It’s a simple, no-frill, tasty and hearty meal (probably more befitting a child’s appetite, so it might be good to serve this if you have children dining along). My Mom (and Jamie’s) would be proud of me.

Oh, and our cat could only mentally taste the chicken from a distance.

Note: No precise measurement or garnishing. Who says you need to go pro when you’ve just started?

Chicken tonight

 What you need:

(Serves 2)


2 chicken thighs

1/2 peeled and sliced onions

1/2 lemon

2 pinches of salts

Some ground black pepper

A sprinkle of dried Provencal herbs

2 small dollop of butter

Flageolet Side dishes:

1 can of flageolet beans (you can probably get this from Carrefour and do choose the fine (fins) ones as they are smoother and softer.)

1/2 peeled and finely chopped onions

Some ground black pepper

2 peeled and cut potatoes

1 teaspoon of sunflower oil

Some salt to taste

How to do it:

  1. Place the thighs on a baking tray.
  2. Marinate the chicken by rubbing salt evenly all over the chicken thighs; top and bottom part. Sprinkle some black pepper and Provencal herb and then squeeze the lemon on the top part of the thighs.
  3. Let the chicken sit for at least a few hours (I let mine rest in the fridge overnight).
  4. Boil the potatoes until they are slightly soft. (This is an important lesson I’ve learned for a well-cooked roast potatoes.)
  5. Place the boiled potatoes around the chicken on the baking tray.
  6. Drop a small dollop of butter on each thigh.
  7. Insert the tray into a pre-heated oven (gas mark medium) for about 1 1/2 hour. Do check on the chicken at 30 minutes interval (this is how I made sure mine didn’t ended up as charcoal chicken) and turn the chicken over once the top has turned brown and crispy. Add a bit of water if you think it looks dry but the onions should keep it moist and since they are thighs, there should be sufficient fat dripping out from the meat. When the bottom part looks brown, flip the chicken over again for that final roast. By this time, you can turn down the heat to low.
  8. About 10 minutes before the chicken is ready, heat a cooking pot and pour the oil over it. Once the oil is hot, put the chopped onions in and stir them until they’re slightly brown.
  9. Pour the can of beans into the pot (do not drain out the juice) and let it boil and then turn down the fire to simmer for about 2 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle some black pepper on the beans.
  11. Serve the dishes onto casserole dishes.

Bon Apetit!

Chicken tonight_2


  1. Practice makes perfect so we're looking forward to lots and lots of roast chicken with potatoes soon. It looks nice from here.

  2. LOL! I think I should practise other dishes as well lest you already know what to expect when you come for dinner.

    Perhaps, I can still be your guinea pig, as you once suggested?