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Indie Author Chow: Don’t Be a Starving Artist if You Don’t Have To Be

Contrary to the popular image of the starving artist, we need good food to write effectively. The brain needs exercise and nourishment, just like any other part of the body.

Here is my recipe for baked chicken with lemon and parsley.
First, brine your chicken. Once you brine your chicken, you will never go back.
The standard formula for brining chicken is 1/4 cup of sea salt (use less if you’re using table salt) per every liter of water. Most of the time, I just wing it (pun intended) and just add salt to the water until it tastes like the North Atlantic sans seaweed flavor.

You can add two tablespoons of sugar to the brine. Sugar will help the proteins unravel and add some sweetness (go figure…) I personally don’t like doing this. We get too much sugar already and I don’t like the sweet flavor with meat. But sugar will help brown the skin if you’re using chicken parts or a whole chicken. But sugared brine can also lead to burning earlier if you are roasting instead of baking. In short; no sugar for me. You should try it at least once to see how you like it.

If you’re impatient like me, you can warm up the water first to about 100F to help the salt dissolve. This is important: don’t add the chicken to the water until the water reaches ROOM TEMPERATURE. Because you’re letting the chicken sit, even in the refrigerator, the 100F temperature will encourage bacterial growth. What I do is put a little bit of warm water to get the salt dissolved, then add cold water, then the chicken.

How much water you will need depends on the size of your container and the amount of chicken you have. This is why I usually don’t measure the brine solution exactly. I’m never sure how much chicken I will have (afford) and the container is always different. The idea is to cover the chicken completely in the container with the brine.

You can add spices to the water, but I’ve found it doesn’t do much. If you do, make sure the spices are fresh not dried. Dried spices seem to do even less.

Then, all you need to do is let the chicken sit in the refrigerator. I like to let it sit in there overnight. However, the brine effect will kick in after just 2-3 hours. In my experience though, the longer the better.

On to the cooking! This is my favorite method right now for boneless breasts.
Lightly coat a pan with olive oil. Make sure the pan is deep enough to hold some liquid.
Put the brined chicken in the pan and rub them in the olive oil and flip them.
Rub in some black pepper on both sides.
Rub in some finely chopped fresh parsley.
Cut a lemon in half. Squeeze 1/2 on the chicken, quarter the other half of the lemon and place it beside the chicken rinds and all. Don’t squeeze those quarters. Let them do their thing while they bake.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Pop in the pan and let cook for 30 to 35 minutes, depending on the thickness of the breasts.You’ll have to go closer to 35 minutes if the breasts are more than 1 1/2 inches thick.

When the chicken is done, SAVE THE JUICE IN THE BOTTOM OF THE PAN! This is the best part.
Serve the chicken breasts on a bed of rice and pour the juice over the rice.
Serve some nice coarse greens on the side with balsamic vinegar dressing.

Oh my yum! It’s good.

If you are cooking a whole chicken, remove it from the brine and let it sit uncovered in the fridge for a couple hours so the skin can dry out. Pat it down with a clean dish towel to get it started on drying. Otherwise, the soaked chicken will have a hard time browning.

In a future post, I may share my recipe for roasted Brussels sprouts in mustard sauce. I’m still working on that one though. They’d be nice with the chicken …

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