Maybe it's due to comfort, or laziness, or lack of inspiration. We eat the same cereal for breakfast, walk the same route to work, buy the same crackers we've bought for years.
And there's nothing inherently wrong with this, I suppose. I mean, if your routine works for you, there's no moral imperative to shake things up.
Things are shifting here, though. I feel it. First, it's hot as the dickens. The mercury soared to 89 degrees yesterday, and today we're on our way to 93. This, in April. I've cranked open the windows and look on, guilt-ridden, as my plants buckle and wilt. It's like a giant monster with hot breath has overtaken the neighborhood.
Things are shifting in the market, too. Yesterday I saw the first squash blossoms of the season. I passed them by -- with another conference this week I won't have time to stuff and fry them -- and reached instead for quicker-cooking fare: zucchini I'll slice into rounds, white carrots I'll shred and dress, snap peas I'll pop like tic tacs.
Change has even come to my chicken habits.
I always roast bone-in chicken breasts with nothing more than salt, pepper, and olive oil. I've done this for years. Colorful sides lend the meal vibrancy and interest, but the chicken is generally the same: salt, pepper, olive oil... salt, pepper, olive oil... lather, rinse, repeat. I get plenty creative when it comes to boneless, skinless breasts, but with the bone in I rarely waver.
Yesterday, my friend Lisa told me to marinate the chicken in fruit vinegar, Worcestershire, and a little oil...
The chicken was super-juicy, and flavorful.
I felt free! Inspired!
"Where'd you get this rotisserie chicken?" Colin cooed.
I'm cooking chicken this way for the next 30 years.
Recipe for Roasted Chicken Breasts with Fruit Vinegar
You'll not only get great flavor and juicy meat by letting your chicken soak up this fruity marinade, you'll get beautifully dark, crisp skin as well. Use whatever fruit vinegar you have on hand. If you're buying a new bottle, I recommend a fig balsamic.
1-1/2 tablespoons fruit vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-3/4 pound bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (about 2 large)
In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the vinegar, Worcestershire, and olive oil until emulsified. Season generously with salt and pepper and transfer to a large ziploc bag. Add the chicken, squeeze out all the air, and zip closed. Fold the bag in half and refrigerate for several hours, turning occasionally if you think of it.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Fit a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick spray. Remove the chicken from the marinade (let excess marinade drip off) and place on the baking sheet. (Discard marinade.) Pat chicken gently with paper towels.
Roast in the hot oven for about 30 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast reaches 175 degrees. Cool slightly, then cut the meat off the bone in one large chunk and slice crosswise for serving.