What To Eat Wednesday: Cast Iron Chicken Pieces

Six Chicken Legs
Can of Black Beans
1/2 Head of Cauliflower

Vegetable Oil
Red Wine Vinegar
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Lime Juice

Now I don't know how you feel while living a sinless life, but I find that after a while I get a little tired of chicken breasts all the time. It's not that they're not lovely or versatile or wonderfully inexpensive,  it's just that there is a lot of visceral pleasure to be derived from masticating something off a bone; breasts kind of rob you of that pleasure.

This particular recipe comes down in part from my mom's mom and is the best I can do for homage.

What makes this different is in the dressing. Normally I am an apostle for extra virgin olive oil and a syrupy balsamic vinegar, but grandma knew her stuff, and nothing beats a light marinade of Wish Bone Italian Dressing (or whole food approximation) for zipping up some poor fowl's leg.

Okay . . . let's prep.

The Meat:
First things first . . . rid yourself of that pesky (delicious) skin. I know that sounds terrible, and yes, you can go ahead and leave it on if you like, but before you make that decision . . . take off your clothes and look at your naked body in a full length mirror.

I like to make a circular cut around the bottom knob of the chicken bone then pull the skin down from the top making small incisions whenever brute force isn't working. Leaving a little bit of skin at the base does two things. One, the crispy skin when all sizzled and golden gives you a good visual indicator that the meat is done, and two, it adds just the tiniest bit of fat to the pan.

Repeat after me: Fat is flavor.

Put the pieces in a bowl and drizzle around 6 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 3 tables spoons of vinegar, 1 tbsp of grated parmesan, sprinkle salt/pepper, and spritz the amount of lime juice that you would put in a vodka tonic.

Mix with a spoon and refrigerate for an hour or more.

Pro Tip: Don't forget that I am Certified in Food Safety, as well as being a Junior Lone Ranger, so trust me when I say you can't be too careful when it comes to handling any type of chicken.

Make sure you cover the bowl with some kind of plastic wrap, or cover. Make a space for the bowl at the bottom of your fridge so that it's at least a few inches from anything else. Wash everything you used and everything else in the sink with anti bacterial soap. Scrub your hands (especially your fingernails) then . . .  set fire to your counter with a flame thrower. If you don't have a flame thrower, bleach will do.

Okay . . . when you're ready to cook, preheat your oven to 385 and put a little fire under your cast iron pan (I'm using a 10" for this). Add a dash of oil to the surface. Once you can feel the heat coming  off it, start laying out your pieces back and forth, kinda like Charlie's grandparent's sleeping arrangement in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Meaty side down. Let 'Em sizzle for about five minutes on one side, flip them with a good long set of tongs, and then place the whole pan in the middle of the oven.

Immediately wash the bowl, the tongs, your hands, the sink, and your neighbor's car.

Never too careful.

Cook for a half hour to forty five minutes, whichever is longer.

While that's going, and after you've killed 99.99% of all the bacteria, you can start rocking your side-dishes.

For this one I went Black Beans (open the can, put it in a pan, heat it up, good to go.) and Cauliflower (chop up into bitable chunks, steam, don't boil)

The difference between making this a meal . . . and actually masterminding cuisine . . . is that I will add just a little splash of the lime and sprinkle of parmesan to the cauliflower in order to tie the flavors together.

You don't have to be a super-genius to figure that out . . . but trust me, it helps.

Once the chicken is crispy (eye the leg fat), take it out, plate it up, and ring Anita Ward's bell.

This works for chicken thighs as well. Same rules. Not however for wings. (Has anyone else noticed how ridiculously expensive chicken wings have gotten? It's like they're a fad or something. Forget about 'em.)

You can also add some dried or fresh parsley to the dressing. The only reason I don't is because my son won't eat something if he sees little green flakes, but if you do do it, make sure you also add a bit to the cauliflower . . . because . . . you know . . . super-genius.

If you start drinking vodka tonics early (cause what else are you gonna do with the rest of the lime?) you can substitute the vodka with gin, but then you have to substitute the tonic with an olive because you know as well as I do . . .  that the dry-vermouth has turned. And now you have a lime problem again.

This recipe also works great on the barbecue (the chicken, not the beans), and if you really wanna fall in love with putting things in your mouth, you should absolutely replace the cauliflower with my grandmother's potato salad (A recipe I will gladly share when we get to summer foods.)

Good Wine Pairing: Wine

Great Wine Pairing: White Wine

Genius Wine Pairing: Oaky Californian Chardonnay

Super Genius Wine Pairing: Beer

Feeds Three(ish)

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