Whole30: Day 20
Friends, I reached a discernible milestone this past week with my Whole30 challenge. I actually baked chicken in my oven, with a sauce, and no one died. In fact, it was actually quite good! That's not all though, we also managed to make a delicious "fried" chicken dish that tastes exactly the way it sounds, amazing.
The baked chicken dish, however, didn't come to fruition completely free of stress and drama. In my effort to be as productive after work as humanly possible (gym, grocery store, etc), I started the chicken way too late and it didn't finish cooking until about 10pm. And so, throughout the prepping process; eyeballing the ingredients and spices for the sauce, cutting up onions to their right thickness, and remembering, at the 11th hour, to supplement the protein-heavy meal with some florets of broccoli; I was rather nervous, and may have cut some corners.
That being said though, the meal turned out much better than I anticipated. If I could go back and redo the meal, I might have been a little more conservative with lemon and cut the potatoes into smaller cubes, but that is the nature of cooking, I'm finding: you cook something, "critique" it while you eat it, and then next time around, you improve. Or improvise a little more, I'm not sure.
And then, there was the fried chicken. As wonderful as you could imagine, and extremely easy. Using grapeseed oil and a generic chicken seasoning spice, we took about 6 chicken thighs with the skin on, cut them in half length-wise, removed the bones, doused the meat-side with the seasoning spice, sprinkled the whole chicken caboodle with salt, and then placed them, skin-down, in the hot pan of grapeseed oil. Carefully, and from a safe distance, observe the incredibly sizzling that takes place for about 7-10 minutes, and then flip the thighs to cook for an additional 3 minutes, meat-side down. Some recipes will recommend using ghee, but grapeseed oil has yet to fail us.
Grapeseed oil, I've discovered, is really great for cooking things at a high temperature. It's also very high in Vitamin E which helps your body fight free radicals that are thought to be one of the leading causes of cancer and heart disease. However, because grapeseed oil is a by-product of wine production, some grapeseed oils can contain a chemical solvent called Hexane, which is considered a pollutant. Granted, the effects of exposure to trace amounts of hexane has not been subjected to a ton of research, at this point. But, none of that has a particularly charming ring to it, to me. Opt instead for cold-pressed or expeller-pressed grapeseed oils, as they do not use chemical solvents, therefore, helping you to avoid exposure to hexane, but still allowing you to fry chicken at a high temperature to achieve maximum crispy-ness. You can have your crispy chicken, and eat it, too.
Although these two feats might not qualify me enough to refer to myself as a "chicken master", my partner also managed to make some really delicious, Whole30-compliant, chicken salad with avocado mayo that we spread inside of lettuce wedges and topped with chopped tomato and cilantro. Between the two of us, we've managed to cook a fair amount of delicious dinners and lunches with chicken, and have every managed to prep a few chicken breasts to have on-deck in our fridge when we're not feeling particularly creative at the end of the day.
Like I said, cooking feels the most satisfying, to me, when there is a level of self-discovery and improvisation. If you'd like to take a crack at either of these recipes, they can be found here, https://nomnompaleo.com/post/74180911762/cracklin-chicken, and here, https://laughingspatula.com/easy-roasted-lemon-chicken-with-potatoes-and-rosemary/. Both dishes were relatively easy, if you're going to try the rosemary-lemon chicken, be sure to start it earlier than you think, or else, you could end up like me; sweating and crying (from the white onion, I swear) in your kitchen at ten at night.