It’s a rainy Saturday and plans of going out later have been scrapped at their inception. There’s a storm and getting caught up in flash floods just isn’t my idea of a relaxing weekend. Since yesterday afternoon, the only welcome thoughts I’ve been entertaining were to curl up in bed watch a couple of favorite films, and eat an uncomplicated meal. Straight from school (I teach on Fridays), I hurriedly marinated a pack of chicken thighs that I had been thawing since lunchtime. Putting the DVD player on “pause” in the middle of Ocean’s Thirteen, I left the comfort of my bed to place half of the chicken thighs in the oven. Because the chicken thighs had been marinating in the fridge for only about 45 minutes, as I expected, they were rather bland when they came out of the oven. My daughters noticed.
It’s not so much how many ingredients you put in your chicken marinade but, more often, it is how much time you allow the chicken to absorb the flavors. In the same manner, it’s not so much how fancy or colorful a pasta dish is but, rather, what you serve it with. I oven-grilled the remaining half of the chicken thighs today after marinating them overnight in the fridge and they were just lovely. Lovelier still was how well they went with the simplest pasta dish that can be whipped up in under 20 minutes pasta with Alfredo sauce.
Would you believe it if I told you that the only ingredients for my chicken marinade were dark soy sauce, lemon juice, and finely minced garlic? No kidding. But after swimming in the mixture overnight, the chicken meat had absorbed all the flavors and I couldn’t ask for much more. Simple, easy, and satisfying.
A tip, though. Just before the chicken thighs went into the oven, neatly arranged on a rack inside a roasting pan, I smothered them with freshly ground pepper and mixed herbs that I mentioned in the pork steaks and oven-fried potato chips entry. After twenty minutes in the oven at 175oC, the skins were crisp and the meat was nicely done but not dry.
While the chicken was grilling in the oven, I boiled a pot of water and cooked some spaghetti in it. And while the pasta was cooking, I prepared the sauce. Alfredo sauce for pasta is just the basic white sauce. Melt some butter, add cream (half-and-half also works), and grated cheese (Parmesan is traditional but not essential; cheddar will work just fine). How much sauce you need depends on how much pasta you have, naturally, but a good proportion is 2 tablespoonfuls of butter and 1/4 cup of grated cheese for every cup of cream or half-and-half. Stir the sauce until the cheese melts. Do not allow the sauce to boil for too long; otherwise, the milk will curdle. I turn off the heat as soon as the cheese melts and I add the seasonings off the fire. What seasonings? Salt, of course, and pepper. But I also like to add chopped parsley. And since acquiring three different kinds of mixed dried herbs in bottles with their grinders, I’ve been using them quite a lot I sprinkled the pasta with mixed herbs too.