Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day - Cooking with Toddler

So, today is Mother's Day, which we don't celebrate in our family (because, quite frankly, every day is Mother's Day around here), and the day before D2's birthday, which we celebrated today, because hey, it's Sunday.
Which brings us to the question, what to blog about, motherhood or D2's milestone of turning two?
How about both?

I give you, ladies and gentlemen....

Toddler-Baked Chicken with Onions, Garlic, and Rosemary!

The beauty of this dish is that it does not have to be done by a mom. It can be a sitter, grandma, dad (I know, OMG) or anyone else. All it requires is the presence of an active toddler, which is to say, pretty much any toddler who is awake. I did it yesterday, for example, and it was pretty successful.

Adapted from "All About Chicken" cookbook.

Makes 4 to 5 servings.

3.5 to 4.5 pounds chicken parts
3 medium onions
6 to 12 cloves garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tsp minced fresh rosemary or 2 tsp dried crumbled

Gather all your ingredients on the counter. Tell the toddler to step away from the dishwasher. Tell him again. Come over there and drag him away, giving him a toy to play with.

Turn oven to preheat to 400 degrees F.

Wash the chicken and pat dry. Watch out of the corner of your eye as your toddler drags a step stool over to the counter with the knife block. Speed up the washing process.
Nervously eye the toddler as he climbs very carefully up on the step stool and tell him in a dangerous voice, "Dude, what did mommy say about kitchen counters?" This is to buy you some time, because of course who in his right mind ever remembers what mommy said about kitchen counters? Expedite the drying process, fling the paper towel aside, and scoop the toddler off the counter. Put him down and attempt to distract him.
Return to the cooking process in false hope that he's engaged in something.

Cut onions into rings, nervously glancing over your shoulder and miraculously not chopping your finger off. Thinly slice the garlic.

Toss onions, garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil and rosemary together. Squawk in surprise as your toddler rams you with his head from behind. Gather the pieces that fell out on the counter and put them quickly back in. Five second rule, plus, you just cleaned.
Drag the step stool over and direct your toddler to climb up so he can watch, as you spread half the mixture in a shallow baking dish or roasting pan just large enough to hold all the chicken in a single layer. Talk to him the whole time explaining every little thing you are doing, because it seems to mesmerize him. Resist his attempts to help.

Season the chicken liberally with salt and black pepper to taste. Accidentally oversalt because someone reached over to happily slap a piece of chicken. Drag the toddler with his step stool over to the sink so you can wash his hand as you try not to touch anything with your raw chickened hands.

The toddler reaches over and snuggles into you saying tenderly, "Maaaammaaaa!" Roll your eyes but get filled with enormous warmth. Finish seasoning the chicken.

Put the chicken on top of the onion mixture and cover with the remaining half. Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil. Snatch the knife out of toddler's hands that you forgot to put away when you had him climb up on the step stool.

Put the whole thing (minus the toddler) into the oven and bake until dark meat pieces exude clear juices when pricked deeply with fork, about 45 to 55 minutes. If you are doing white meat (because certain members of your household are picky that way), they won't exude anything, and you should bake them a little longer, like 60-70 minutes.

Afterwards, take a nap. Serve for dinner, garnering lots of praise despite oversalting.

Simple, right?