One thing is for certain: I feel much better after a meal. I know, I know. We’re not supposed to eat our feelings. Someone once said to me “Don’t reward yourself with food. You are not a dog.” All the same, I can’t help but think that the world just appears a more possible place once I’ve eaten something. My favourite people feel the same way.
I am struggling with a chapter of my dissertation. And though I have luxurious amounts of time on my hand, I don’t have a single interesting thing to say. So this evening, I closed my word document and embarked on something delicious in the hope it might spur something wonderful on the page.
Of late I’ve been making simple meals: five ingredients at the most. Simple marinades; roasting in the oven; braising on the stove; a drizzle of olive oil or pepper to finish. These days when I’m itching to embark on a 4-hour meal I tend to get under my covers and open up one of my favourite cookbooks to live vicariously through the cooks I most admire, thick of waist and sharp of tongue. So much more wonderful to read about the details of the perfect way to have a cut of beef retain its juices from the safety of cosiness. Or maybe that’s just my mother in me. She is a phenomenal cook, but refuses to be a slave to ingredients or technique. Pleasure should be pleasurable.
This is what you should do for the perfect, comforting plate of dinner: Marinate chicken leg(s) with salt, pepper, paprika and oil, making sure to rub the marinade under the skin of the chicken. Arrange in a baking dish and sprinkle over 5 un-peeled cloves of garlic. Bake in a 400 F oven for about 45 minutes. 20 minutes in, take the chicken out of the oven and deglaze the roasting pan with wine (either white or red, whatever you have in the fridge). Turn the chicken pieces over and cook for another 20 minutes. To test if the chicken is done, using a fork and knife, cut into the chicken to the bone. If it releases a clear liquid, it is done.
I roasted some asparagus spears alongside. Again, a simple salt and olive oil drizzle and 9-11 minutes in the oven at the same temperature.
The best part of this meal is undoubtedly the moment you pierce the garlic cloves with your knife and have gooey deliciousness ooze onto your chicken, which is already perfect, sharp (paprika), balanced (salt + pepper) and crisp (skin + oil).
I happily never made it back to my chapter.