In response to Chel’s request that I write more about my diet, I’m finally gonna publish a long delayed favorite dish of mine, baked chicken. Chicken per se is healthy provided you go for white meat, and baking, like grilling, is also healthy because the fat drips off out of the chicken and not into your stomach.
My version though has a caveat. I don’t go for white meat so much because pre cut chicken breast is actually far more expensive than the rest of the parts (go figure), and I really like chicken thighs. They’re the part near the ass (depending on how its cut), and usually involve only one large bone, making it a quick and easy to cook. And besides it’s the best tasting, meatest part imho.
So here’s how it looks pre – cooked.
So that’s two approximately 6 pieces (I don’t remember anymore) pieces of chicken thighs mixed with thinly sliced ampalaya, salt and pepper, cheyenne pepper, worcestershire, some olive oil and tomato ketchup.
My diabetic diet does not allow for the ketchup which has sugar, so I don’t put too much. Also, this diet is my method of allowing ampalaya into my diet. Thinly sliced and thoroughly cooked, the bitter taste isn’t as strong and is far more palatable. Chicken per se, like all meats, provide a good even taste which you then help along with spices. So pile on the spices, adding just enough of each. I like mine hot and spicy, therefore the cheyenne pepper.
You use two large pieces of aluminum foil, one at the bottom and another on top.
Crimp the sides of the aluminum foil to fold upwards like this, allowing some air inside, forming a kind of bubble.
Crimp them TIGHTLY, because the goal here is to let the chicken cook in its own juices. If there is a hole in the aluminum foil, it will allow the juices to escape, and your chicken will still cook but become dry. A hole at the bottom of the aluminum foil is even worse as the juices will pour out. Good, thick aluminum foil is key. The cheap brands are too thin and easily tear. If you can avoid tearing then I suppose the cheap ones are ok, but the thicker brands are far more forgiving and it’s a super hassle to do it all over again if you tear it.
You’ll need a kind of container for the whole thing so the juices if any won’t spill out. I used a tin round, er.., pan (for lack of a better description). I eventually bought a pyrex one for that purpose as it is easier to clean.
Shove it in the oven for 15 ~ 20 minutes at high, I think that’s approximately 250 degrees. Sorry I’m not too exact, but don’t worry about over cooking it as baking meat is very userfriendly. Rule of thumb: you’ll be able to judge from the smell (and there will be a wonderful, wonderful smell), if it’s cooking. Once it smells great, give it approximately 10 to 15 minutes to just keep cooking.
Apologies for the ugly electric oven.
What you’re going for here is the meat – falling – off – the – bone experience. Chicken must absolutely just fall apart when you tear it slightly with your fork, leaving just the bone.
Here are other pictures of a time I prepared the same dishes with just two pieces for myself:
Just two pieces this time, with the usual salt + pepper, spices, ampalaya and green pepper. No ketchup this time.
Wrapped tight like a burrito. Don’t forget to leave some air in there.
Opening it always gives me a rush. Here it is with some of the delicious chicken juices it stewed it. If you’re not hungry when you started this you’d be starving by the time you tear the aluminum foil open. Just the smell will drive you crazy I promise.
A slight nudge with the fork confirms the insides free of any red or even pink uncooked areas and therefore thoroughly cooked and clean. Also the meat is just beautiful and tender. I promise you the soup it produces is heavenly. Add the wonderful feeling you get from knowing that no artificial anything is in there, none of that fake ‘umami’ stuff, bouillons or anything. Just the pure real thing.
And here’s the bad stuff you’re not putting in your mouth. The black stuff is burnt, cancer causing sugar from the ketchup (this pic is from the 1st batch above), while the yellow stuff is pure melted fat from the chicken and maybe some olive oil. Just being able to separate this from the chicken is well worth the effort.
So to conclude:
- Pros: Absolutely delicious, free of fat and carcinogens that usual pan – frying brings. Easy to prepare and actually easy to clean up after.
- Cons: Takes a lot of time to cook, so is not a ‘quick – meal’ solution if that’s what you’re looking for. In other words, not for the lazy. If you order any baked meat at a restaurant, they’ll usually say it takes 15 minutes, which is nuts. A properly baked anything requires at least 2x that amount of time. This also requires dealing with an oven, so get your mitts ready and be very careful you don’t get singed or burned.