Hi everyone! I am back from Guadalajara! All toilets, I am pleased to report, were in full working order. Not a single large spider was spotted. We were also not kidnapped (as I briefly feared when my boss recommended that we wear jeans instead of the business outfits we’d brought, having just been told by a Mexican friend that we should try to look as inconspicuous as possible). I view my non-kidnapping as a huge plus.
But of course, what kind of a story is ‘all was well’? Really, it’s no kind of a story. So be reassured: shenanigans were nonetheless afoot. A big week-long festival in Tlaquepaque (where we stayed) serenaded us with exploding fireworks, loud mariachi bands, and the crazy, energetic noise of people celebrating in the street. This went on all night long. And by ‘all night long’ I mean that we checked into our bed and breakfast around 8pm Monday evening, and when we came down for breakfast around 7:30am the next morning, the party was still raging. Not petering out, or winding down, or losing its steam–raging, I tell you. Raging.
Number of hours of sleep between check-in and check-out = 0.256. I was suddenly very grateful that our connecting flight had us at the Dallas airport the following night, where not a single enthusiastic mariachi man was in sight.
Now please don’t misunderstand me–I’m in full support of people partying in the streets, saying the Lord’s Prayer over a loudspeaker, and greeting the dawn with dancing and yelling. But those firecrackers sounded like bombs, man. And we kind of had a meeting with a client the next morning, type of thing. The short dozes I coaxed myself into throughout the night were populated with nightmares of large hairy rats whose heads I was trying to smash against the wall, except that I couldn’t quite get enough energy in my arm to do the deed with one try.
What does that dream mean? I don’t think that a detailed analysis would be fruitful at this point.
Anyway, it’s time for more food.
I am one of those people who mentally divide meals into two categories: weekend and weeknight. Being a workin’ woman these days, Monday through Friday there is simply no time to make most braises, stews, or roasts. The incomparable flavor of these dishes has been reserved, in my mind, for a Saturday or Sunday.
When I started leafing through my library copy of the fantastic cookbook ‘The Best 30-Minute Recipe,’ I read that the brilliant minds over at America’s Test Kitchen wanted to make stews, braises, and traditionally long-cooking things like lasagna into faster (but still delicious) weeknight versions. I may have pumped a fist in the air. In fact, if these people want to lead a revolution, I will follow. Take me to your leader.
Are you getting the feeling that I’m becoming obsessed with America’s Test Kitchen? Because if you are, that feeling would be correct, sir.
This recipe for Chicken Tagine that I bring to you today was a thrilling success. It all starts with microwaving chicken thighs to get the cooking done faster. I was skeptical at first–really? The microwave? Wouldn’t that make the chicken all gross and stuff? Where would the flavor come from? Well if there’s one thing I can state with confidence: there is no lack of flavor here! I still can’t believe it’s possible to make such a rich and wonderful dish in so short a time. The chicken is just as tender as if it had been on the stove for much longer. Rest assured that I’ll be bringing you more of this kind of recipe. I’ve been craving more ever since the last bite.
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 TBS olive oil
1 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp salt
2 TBS flour
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup quartered dried apricots
2 TBS minced cilantro
In order to make this work in 30 minutes, multitasking and prepping things in order is very important, so I’ll walk you through it as best I can. First up: getting the chicken started.
Season the chicken thighs generously with salt and pepper and place them in a single layer in a microwave-safe casserole dish (if you use a plate, the juices may run over and make a mess).
. . . and microwave on 50% power for 15 minutes. Now I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to make my microwave go to 50% power, and since I suspected the manual was in a dusty spot under the couch where it was likely trod upon repeatedly by spiders, I simply did 15 minutes of ‘cook’ using the regular settings and it worked fine.
Now grab a large onion.
Garam masala, by the way, is an Indian blend of spices that will rock your world. If you don’t have any on hand, just do a quick google search and you will turn up a million recipes telling you how to make your own by combining spices such as cinnamon, coriander, cumin, etc.
While you’re at it, quarter the dried apricots. Such a lovely, bright orange!
You should also have time to mince up the garlic. I hope that multitasking doesn’t make your head spin.
Pour in the chicken stock . . .
During those 5 minutes, give the cilantro a rough chop:
I’m all about optimal ease of consumption.
Am I sounding bossy?
You know–don’t answer that question. Just obey.
The Older Sister Who Never Got Over Being a Bossy Older Sister
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