For anyone who knows me, they’ll be able to tell you in an instant that one of my favorite things to do is to cook. And from that passion for cooking comes a passion for watching cooking shows. Watching master chefs spin culinary delights while breaking all barriers about what we know and don’t know about cooking is fascinating to me. It’s somewhat like when you happen across an idea or concept that you’d never even considered before, and suddenly completely shifts the paradigm in which you had lived before, opening new and exciting ways in which to view and think!
Although that may seem a drastic or hyperbolic way to describe something as seemingly simple as watching a cooking show, it seems the perfect way to describe what cooking shows are to me. As such, I finally decided to not just take in that amazing creative process, but to try and do it myself! Hence, one of my first creations without a recipe to guide me, Blue Cheese Baked Chicken with Thyme Sprinkled Mushrooms and Potatoes.
- 2 chicken breasts or thighs
- bread crumbs (enough to shallowly cover the bottom of a plate)
- 2 eggs
- Mushrooms and Potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3-4 tablespoons thyme, chopped
- 2-3 cups mushrooms, diced
- 2 medium sized potatoes, diced
- 1/2 white onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper
When I first envisioned this meal, I imagined something warm, hearty, and savory. It was a cold night, with lots of rain and wind howling through the narrow streets of my neighborhood, and I couldn’t help but want something that would warm me up and linger on the tongue with all kinds of savory flavors. I was pretty happy with the results.
To start, prepare your potatoes, thyme, garlic, and mushrooms. I chose to chop my potatoes in smaller sized pieces so a to help them cook faster, and to get them a little crispier. The mushrooms were chopped rather large since I knew that they would shrink as they cooked.
Additionally, thyme, which is one of the most underrated herbs, is deliciously fragrant and beautifully colored. To get it off of the sprig easily, pinch your fingers around the base of the sprig and gently pull along to easily remove the leaves from the base. Once you’ve got a nice bunch of thyme set on your cutting board, give it a few quick chops with your knife and set aside.
Garlic, which is the most amazing of all vegetables in my humble opinion, is crucial to this recipe. Which is why I use maybe twice as much as any normal recipe would recommend. Since the garlic will carmelize and cook down as you make your potatoes, I didn’t mince, but thoroughly chopped.
Now that your potato ingredients are ready, heat up a skillet with the oil in it on medium-high heat, and put only your potatoes in. They will need a lot longer to cook (maybe 10 minutes) than everything else. As they cook, cover with a lid and check regularly to make sure nothing is burning. You want them to crisp on the outsides and gain a nice golden brown coloring.
While your potatoes fry, start preparing your chicken! Turn your oven on to 350º F and prepare a baking sheet with foil. For this part, you will need one shallow plate for egg dip, and one shallow plate for the bread crumbs.
Taking your washed chicken, pat it dry with a paper towel to remove any extra moisture. This will help the egg and bread crumbs to cling better to your chicken. Your eggs should be swirled together with a fork to mix together yolk and whites. One you’ve patted your chicken dry (an odd phrase), place delicately in the eggs, dip in the chicken, and lay out on your baking sheet.
Once you’ve added only the spices to your chicken, place in the oven and set a timer for 20 minutes. You will not add the blue cheese until the timer goes off as the cheese would only melt, bubble, and burn if left in the oven that long. Don’t worry, I would never forget about the blue cheese.
Now, let’s also not forget about the potatoes. As you’ve been watching them and occasionally stirring them, you should now be ready to add the rest of the ingredients. Gently fold in the thyme, onions, mushrooms, and garlic, and stir. The fragrance of the thyme and onions and garlic should waft up to you and make your stomach grumble with anticipation. It certainly made mine while I was cooking. Go ahead and cover again so as to keep the mushroom juices from evaporating while cooking, and set a timer for about 5 minutes. Gently stir once or twice throughout those five minutes to keep anything from burning or sticking.
Go ahead and prepare your blue cheese by crumbling it into a nice large pile. Once the 20 minute timer goes off, take your chicken out and spread the blue cheese evenly on top. I recommend pressing it gently into the chicken so as to get it to stick to the chicken and to coat evenly with the crumbs. Your chicken should only need another few minutes in the oven to melt the cheese and ensure the chicken is cooked through.
After the 5 minute potato timer goes off, uncover your mushrooms and potatoes. Check to see if the potatoes are cooked by poking a larger piece with a fork. The fork should slide gently into potato. One your potatoes are cooked, turn off the skillet and set aside.
When all is ready, set on a plate, admire for a hot second, and then devour. 🙂
Now that I am becoming an adult (whatever that means) and directing my own life and making my own decisions, I find that I come across a lot of decisions and choices that I don’t quite know how to make. I’ve never had to pay taxes, or decorate an apartment, or decide how to invest savings. I don’t know how to balance my work life and non-work life yet, and I don’t know what I want to do with my career. I don’t even know how to date or meet people (still in the learning process!). Being creative and confident seems alien and unfamiliar, and often leaves me befuddled. More than anything else, I find that the hardest thing of all is making decisions and choices that help me to define who I am and what I want to be.
To combat this unfamiliarity, I look to small, creative projects like this. Whether it’s coming up with a new recipe, or learning how to sew something, or writing a book (another small project I’m starting on), everything slowly comes down to trying to define yourself how you want to define yourself. This recipe is a metaphorical representation, in my opinion, of myself: nothing too fancy, a little quirky, fun, and satisfying. It represents trying to do something new, and taking a risk in doing so. While cooking is nothing incredibly dangerous or risky (depending mostly on how you do it O.o), taking leaps in life is. We don’t know who we will meet or what situations will be thrown at us. All we can do is try to be creative, have fun, and learn more about ourselves in the process.
Here’s to hoping that this recipe finds you happy, healthy, and a little bit wiser. Bom Apetite!