Port Wine Chicken and the Non-Cook’s Baggage

Hi everyone. I had a snowed in weekend but was fortunately able to enjoy a skillfully executed dinner party with an Indian theme.

The dinner party: The lovely host and hostess prepared an involved vegetarian feast with many appetizers, entrees, side dishes and condiments as well as dessert. They combined ready made Indian apps and desserts with everything else homemade. A perfect blend that allowed for a lot of variety and an opportunity for them not to have been slaves to the kitchen the entire day.

Instead, they spent most of their day in Edison, NJ which is heavily populated with people of Indian descent and first generation Indians, food shopped for the party, exposed their kids to a different culture and the foods of that culture. Both little ones, under 4, ate lunch there and loved it. What a dream day and what a fun and creative way to incorporate cultural and food diversity into your family’s life.

During the course of the evening, someone brought up how easy it is for an adult to say they want to take on skateboarding and so they simply take lessons. They went on to say that it was a much more charged issue if that same person who lacks skills in the kitchen were interested in learning the basics of cooking. The notion that they should know how to cook by now makes it embarrassing and frustrating to be seen as a novice in the kitchen. This baggage can serve as a further impediment to taking charge and taking the basics steps to learn how to cook.

At a later point in the evening, someone else mentioned how their mother gave them their recipes from A-Z to have for posterity. Again, the ability to pass on what I call, “heirloom recipes” is a very emotional one for many of us. All the memories of our loved ones making food and providing all those food memories for us can be so family strengthening, reminding us of happy times when we felt nurtured. Many of us want to provide those kind of memories but still struggle with the kitchen and all it entails.

All to say that food and cooking are constants in all of our lives. They are not going away, so let’s continue discussing how we can explore our individual and collective struggles to get all we want and need out of the kitchen for ourselves and our family.

This recipe is not Indian but it was given to me by my friend, Christina, whose husband is half Indian. Does that count? It is one of my favorite recipes.

Port Wine Chicken :

1/2 cup flour
4 Large, boneless Chicken breasts
1/2 stick butter

1/2 cup Port (she uses Sherry but I prefer Port)
2 TBS soy sauce
2 TBS lemon juice
1/4 cup fiely chopped crystalized ginger (you can get this in Whole Foods, spice shops and nut and candy shops)

Combine sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn off the flame and set aside. Coat chicken with flour. Melt butter in an oven-proof saute pan or a cast iron skillet and brown chicken on all sides (the inside can remain raw). Pour sauce over chicken, cover pan with lid or tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for an hour or so. Check at about 40 minutes to see if inside of chicken is raw. serve with salad and rice and enjoy!


2 Responses

  1. What an interesting day! Indian food is super-yummy, and the culture is very beautiful. Interesting way to tie in the idea of baggage….As someone who is in the process of “learning”, I probably have baggage. Yet, this process is empowering. The ability to embrace it the way one might embrace capoeira lessons, or becoming a better bellydancer…is important. Cooking is so fundamental, yet some of us have avoided embracing it….but preparing meals is more than a technical, laborious chore. I’ve been learning, as I go along, that it is indeed creative, cerebral, and fueled by passion….No shame in being a novice—just another dimension to integrate into life. What a joy!

  2. I LOVED this recipe! The sauce was so good I am going to double it the next time I make it. And I have been thinking about how wonderful it would be on all sorts of other things such as loin of pork, brisket, even maybe a durable fish of some kind? (hmmm.. have to experiment!) Anyhow, thanks for another fabulous and easy dish!

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