Sometimes the stars don’t align when I’m planning to make a recipe. It’s not surprising that this might happen occasionally while participating in a weekly cooking group. This week’s French Fridays recipe, Cinnamon-Crunch Chicken, sounds like a quick, interesting, weeknight dinner choice. Crumbled speculoos coating slices of chicken breast, with crème fraiche for richness – fifteen minutes from preparation to table. Sounds good, except for one thing – I wasn’t able to get any suitable gluten-free cookies and my usual gluten-eating
victims taste-testers just weren’t available.
No matter. As Doristas like to say, French Fridays recipes are as much jumping off points as they are road maps. The cinnamon put me in mind of Moroccan flavours, so I marinated slices of chicken breast in safflower oil, lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar, cumin, paprika, and garlic. I left the chicken in the marinade for a couple of hours, then sautéed it in a little chicken stock. Meanwhile, I softened some brown rice vermicelli in hot water. When the chicken was done, I added a little more lemon juice to the pan and gave it a good stir. Then, I fried the vermicelli in the pan juices. Quinoa would have been a closer match for the traditional (and gluten-y) couscous, but I fancied the vermicelli tonight.
As you can see, I’m not much of a recipe writer. I love the term au pif, which Dorie describes as cooking by instinct. It’s an everyday way of making a meal – using what’s on hand and changing the ingredients according to taste. Tonight’s chicken could easily be turned into a stew with the addition of lentils or chickpeas, vegetables and a bit more liquid. It could also be served over any number of starches or some lightly dressed greens. So, not a recipe at all, really.
Sometimes, that’s what cookbooks are for – inspiration, not instruction. I learn a lot by following recipes exactly, using techniques and ingredients that are new to me, but the digressions are where creativity lies. I’m looking forward to reading about everyone’s experience with this week’s recipe proper and I’m quite sure I’ll find some other instances where things took a different turn.
You can find many blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Cinnamon-Crunch Chicken.
You’ve still got a couple of days to check out my 100th post, too – I’ve got a little giveaway happening. The winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 20th.