Chicken Vesuvio and the not-so-very-good day

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Does that look good? Some foods are hard to photograph, especially comfort foods. Comfort foods (or at least my comfort foods), by their very nature, are not all that exciting. They aren’t filled with bright colors and pretty contrasts. Most of mine are browns and tans. So while, this doesn’t look all that exciting, it was good. But I didn’t enjoy it that much. First of all it, again, came from Giada’s Family Dinners cookbook, and you can find the recipe here. But it’s not Giada’s fault, some things outside of Giada’s control made this not really work for me.

To begin with, this is a fall/winter dish. It is one of my go-to fall and winter dishes. I don’t know why I felt like making it now. The dish begins on the stove and then finishes up in a hot, 450 degree oven, which heated up my kitchen. It’s not filled with bright summer flavors. It calls for dried thyme and oregano, which without even thinking, that is what I used. Even though my garden is awash in fresh thyme and oregano. Well, it’s awash in oregano, apparently thyme has issues with my clay soil, but still manages to give me a sprig every now and then. And again, I have no problems with the recipe, it was just not the right time for me.

The other problem was that I cleaned my stove just 2 days ago. I have strong feelings for my stove. If there was a fire in my house, I would try to carry out my stove. My stove feels like my fourth child, only it never misses curfew or dates boys who think it is okay to just pull in the driveway and honk for my daughter. My stove does everything I ask of it, it tries very hard to please me. It’s not in the best shape, all three of my daughters learned to cook on it. And the idea that a spill needed to be wiped up immediately before it became cooked and baked on, just never really sunk in with them. But I do try to keep it clean and shiny.

So, anyway, 2 days ago, I cleaned it, I mean really cleaned it. You know, where you take off the knobs and soak them, and bring out the heavy duty stovetop cleaner. It was beautiful. And then, tonight’s recipe called for browning chicken thighs on the stove. Chicken thighs with fatty skin. Do I need to say more? Do I need to describe the droplets of grease everywhere? The burn splatters on my arms and face? I got so mad, halfway through it, that I began trying to take off the skin. I finally got the skin off. But, by removing the skin, I removed the attractive browned part of the chicken, but by then I was hot and sweaty, burnt, and totally over the thighs. I was supposed to brown the potatoes, but I just tossed them in the fat in the pan, added the thighs back in, and popped it in the oven. It was good, but it could have definitely been better. Don’t you hate when you have a bad cooking experience? Cooking, normally, simultaneously relaxes and refreshes me, but not tonight.

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