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All the Books: Recipe #1 – Chicken with Herb Crusts

Let’s make this simple, I own a lot of cookbooks. Like a lot of people who cook, I would just buy them and put them on my shelf and go on my merry way not noticing that books would rather pile up. Oh, how they pile up, I have given a few away, lost a few, had a few appear without my ever have remember obtaining them, and now have about 55 or so. I say or so, because we are still finding new books. The other day, Syd came to me with a cookbook I had never seen before. Here is a look at most of them, more books have been discovered since this photo was taken. Yes, the damn things have been multiplying since this weekend.

The real tragedy is, many of these books have never rated even a cursory glance from me. That all ends today. Today, we cook! Well, this week we cook. Yesterday. I cooked this yesterday. I’m getting ahead of myself. Years ago, a friend of ours decided they would have to cook at least one dish from each of their books. Today (yesterday) we begin this challenge. We begin with a simple chicken dish taken from the following book. The rules are very simple, I tell you what the book is, how I got it, a brief overview of the recipe and how I found it. Points will be handed out at the whim of the judges. Whoever had the most points at the end will be declared both the winner and the King of Christmas in July. That will either lead to human sacrifice, or me kissing a girl’s hand saying “Fifty Watts per channel, baby cakes.”

Chicken in Herb Crust, from Chicken: Over 400 Fabulous Recipes For All Occasions Edited by Simona Hill. We got this book in about 2006, when Holly was still around and the idea of buying what amounts to a compilation of all the cookbooks Barnes & Noble was publishing made sense for $10. They basically took all the chicken recipes they had, and found the imaginative title of Chicken, because otherwise you might mistake it for a series of lamb dishes. It’s actually a good cook book, and laid out exactly how I like them. A good, representative color photo of the dish, ingredients down one column and relatively easy to follow instructions. I don’t turn my nose up at a book without illustration, but it helps to be able to look at a photo and see how badly you’re screwing up.

This is pretty easy as recipes go. I made it without deviation, hesitation or repetition save for one minor bit and I’ll mention that. You spread some mustard onto some chicken breasts, you press bread crumbs into the mustard (they should be herbed crumbs, but I bought Italian bread crumbs which come pre-herbed, because I only have so much time in my day) and then you drizzle butter over everything to make a nice crust and pop it into a 350 oven for half an hour or so. Or if you’re me, you put it in at 425 for 25 minutes. I find speeding chicken along seems to get me less loss of juice. I say seems, because I have never broken out the Bunsen burners and done a real scientific test.

And you get this…

The chicken was moist and yummy, and the rice was certainly a side dish. That’s a little mess of my own, I cooked some bacon and put it in the rice cooker with the rice. I then put in the remainder of the peppers and tomatoes from Sunday’s omelet. It went with the chicken pretty well, but it wasn’t much of a player on the plate. I won’t say it did nothing, but it… could have done more. If it wasn’t just some thrown together mess, if I’d planned just a little better, it could have been a contender… it could have been somebody.

And so we ate, and everyone agreed it was good. Next week, there will be another book and another recipe, unless I hit one before then. This was going to be a weekend project, when I would have time to cook and photograph. But I was here, the chicken was here, the bread crumbs were here. I figured I could talk my way out of this one. We shall see. And next time, there will be photos with a better camera than my cell phone. But hey, at least The Pitching Wizard approves.

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