Today, I’m going to tell you about the time I nearly killed my housemates.
I can explain, I swear. Because we like each other – and we’re relatively lazy and we like food a lot – we have a cooking rota. We’ve had it for about nine months now and it’s great. It means we spend less on food overall, we eat together which is nice and – crucially – we don’t all have to cook every night. I’m more than aware that this is a bit weird. Trust me, I’ve been told by pretty much everyone that knows. ‘You cook together?!’ is the general reaction, usually asked with a mix of shock and slight disgust. ‘Like, every day?! Isn’t that boring? Isn’t that expensive? Isn’t that –insert judgement here-?’ Well, no, it’s not.
But anyway, for the past nine months I’ve been managing to actively shirk my cooking duties. I’ve gone about this in a number of different ways – sometimes I have to work, sometimes I have to write an essay, sometimes I will wash up four nights a week and promise promise promise that I’ll cook next week, I swear. Sometimes this doesn’t work and so I have to exert every culinary skill I possess and put some pesto on some pasta and serve it with tomatoes and salad. But recently there was a turn in the house and the shirking became an issue. Apparently I have to cook proper meals now. Pasta no longer counts as a proper meal. Apparently.
So I took this into account. I scoured the internet and ended up on BBC GoodFood (although obviously other cooking sites are available…) and found a recipe for rosemary and lemon chicken, served with new potatoes and salad. Now, if you know me at all then you’ll know I have a certain soft spot for chicken.
Proper chicken. Not Dixies, sorry. Take me to Nandos and buy me food and I’m pretty much yours. If I had to cook, I decided, then chicken was obviously the only way forward. In my enthusiasm for this, I didn’t take into account the various different ways that chicken can be ruined – especially when I am cooking it. I think my housemates knew. They raised their eyebrows and shot slightly worried glances at each other when I announced my plan – but to their credit, they let me get on with it anyway.
In the beginning, it looked quite easy. The recipe was a one-pot dish, which I figured was the perfect way to start out; all I had to do was put 6 chicken breasts, a little oil, some diced onions, some new potatoes and some lemon ‘wedges’ into a cooking tray, season them and put in the oven. Check them after twenty minutes, add a little more oil if things were sticking together and put back for another twenty minutes. In theory, I should have an edible meal which we could all enjoy before going back to our rooms and crying into our revision.
I think the problem was the lemon wedges. Because how big is a wedge?! It could be any size, really. And I didn’t want the meal to taste too bland, obviously, so it was a chunk rather than a wedge, and maybe there were one or two more than the recipe stated, because I’d doubled everything else and so clearly I should double the amount of lemon. Right?
As it turned out, not right at all. The first major issue was that none of the potatoes were cooking because our oven is so incredibly useless. The second issue was that because this was a ‘one-pot’ dish I couldn’t really cook things separately, so the longer the potatoes were cooking, the longer the chicken was cooking too. This meant that, little by little, the lemon was infusing itself into the entire meal; by the time I served it, slightly tough potatoes and all, there was no saving it.
So, Recipe of the Week… that’s how not to do it. We ordered Dominoes.