I’ve been hoping, with it being summer and all, that work will slow down to allow me to catch my breath and all. I feel like I’ve been going, going, going. I could really use a vacation – somewhere, anywhere, I just don’t have time to plan it. This crazy schedule of mine makes dinner on weeknights feel like an afterthought. My morning routine is less than inspiring: I wake up early, eat breakfast and drink my coffee on the way to work. On days when I’m feeling diligent, I will blow dry my hair, but on most days I let it be what it wants to be in humid weather – a frizzy mess. Days at work feel like the spin cycle during a wash as I dart in an out of meetings and conference calls.
And then before I know it evening arrives, and as I gather up my things to head on home, I realize – I don’t know what to do for dinner. (I’m sure this never happens to any of you!) And maybe I’m starting to show my age, but I’m sort of over take-out. Invariably, I’d almost rather always cook than pick up my phone. Except, weeknight cooking requires planning – and planning is a little tricky when you’re running around during the week. You kind of just want to come home, pull a few ingredients together and eat within a reasonable time frame. And then, after you clean up the dishes, you want to stretch out in front of the television to watch Rachel Maddow. Ooops, sorry, I’m projecting.
Well, no matter your schedule or busy-ness level, you can add another solid recipe to your weeknight (and weekend!) repertoire, all thanks to Luisa. Because of her (and Regina Schrambling), I had one of the loveliest, calmest, glorious evenings in awhile as I pulled my ingredients together, mixed, slathered, sprinkled, and drizzled. Then in the oven the whole mess went, and I? I settled on the couch with a chilled glass of Riesling and a magazine. How lovely does that sound? Doesn’t an evening like sound better than ordering take-out? The anticipation of a meal, that pre-dinner glass of wine, the warm smell wafting through your house – a preview of what’s to come. Sure, you can sit down with a glass of wine in anticipation of take-out, but somehow it doesn’t sound nearly as exciting. When you hear the chicken quietly sputter in your oven, the anticipation of a meal to come becomes palpable.
The whole business couldn’t be simpler. Just wash and pat dry your chicken, spread the mustard mixture over in a generous, thick coat, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, and drizzle with melted butter. Then you bake your chicken until it’s done, and then you eat it. Besides the herbs, which you can pick up on your way home, the ingredients are pretty straight-forward, and most likely already reside in your pantry.
If you are wondering how the baked mustard on chicken combination works, let me put your worries aside. The heat works wonders on the mustard, which coats the chicken and thickens and dries at it cooks. Mustard on chicken – genius. The recipe – a keeper. Lack of planning – rectified. Now, this thing about planning a vacation – is there a shortcut for that? I could really use one.
Adapted from The Wednesday Chef
4 chicken legs (thighs included, about 2 1/2 pounds) or 8 drumsticks
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme and sage
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup panko or whole wheat breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter
6 cups mesclun or other greens
1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Rinse the chicken legs and pat them dry. In a separate bowl, mix together the herbs and the mustard. Season the legs well with salt and pepper. Spread the mustard mixture over the skin side of each leg to coat thinly. Lay the legs in a shallow baking dish, leaving space between them. Sprinkle evenly with the panko or breadcrumbs and drizzle evenly with the melted butter.
3. Roast 1- 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is very tender and the coating is crisp. Serve on a bed of mesclun (no dressing is needed as the chicken juices and mustard will coat the salad).