Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Satan, Ina, and lemon chicken

This, dear people, is the face of Satan. You thought it was a sweet-voiced plumpish middle-aged woman who adores her own husband? A woman who is always cooking something with olive oil and lemon and fresh herbs and butter and raspberries and every perfect morsel of food you could ever imagine? Yes, she's sweet and she's immensely creative and she has changed the face of American cooking. Though I've never actually seen her barefoot and I don't believe she's an Italian countess.

Her very existence has proved to be more than I can handle. This morning I was reading scripture, trying to get grounded, to feel the Holy Spirit infusing my life. One of my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks was sitting on my kitchen table beside my bible. I got distracted thinking about what I'm going to cook tomorrow night when my friend Lea comes to dinner. So instead of thinking about being infused with the Spirit, my mind was wandering. Satan whispered in my ear, "Just pick up the cookbook. How bad can it be? You'll find a recipe and then get back to God's word. Trust me!" There was a scent of fresh-baked cheese bread, melting butter, fine chocolate. You didn't think Satan would really smell like sulphur, did you?

Time passed as I went from one recipe to another in the cookbook. So many wonderful choices. Nothing Ina Garten cooks is even mediocre--I couldn't fail. And I thought about how Satan meets you where you are. He's not going to tempt me to go partying in Vegas. So I smacked myself upside the head, laughed at my weakness, and went back to scripture for a while.

And this is what I think I'm cooking tomorrow night. (With a Greek panzanella salad and peach shortcakes for dessert.)

Lemon Chicken Breasts

(Source: Barefoot Contessa, How Easy Is That?)

1/4 cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on (6 to 8 ounces each)
1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don't allow the garlic to turn brown. Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9 by 12-inch baking dish.

Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn't browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.

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