I’ve had a small package of quinoa on hand for a while now, and couldn’t think of how I wanted to try it first. Another trip to the store, this time finding ridiculously cheap chicken thighs and drums, and then of course the ever-abundant zucchini, brought a plan to mind!
MARINATING THE CHICKEN
Get a large resealable freezer-type bag, or a container with a good seal on it, and crumble 1 tbsp of rosemary, 1 tbsp of thyme, and 1 tbsp or marjoram leaves into it. Crumble them as best you can to release as much of their flavours as possible, and break down the woody pieces. Next add a tbsp of minced garlic, and about a tbsp of onion powder. Prepare your lemon by rolling it around on your cutting board a bit to get it feeling a bit soft, and so you can smell the lemon zest strongly. Use a fine grater or zester to add the zest from half of your lemon to your marinade bag, then cut the lemon in half and squeeze as much juice as possible, from the one half. If you have less than three tablespoons, squeeze the other half in too. Add a quarter cup of heavy olive, or canola oil and mix the ingredients really well.
Remove any fat you can from your chicken, and pierce the skin a few times with a fork. I like to use a meat fork since the tines are larger, and allow more marinade to soak into the meat. Seal the chicken into the bag or container, removing as much air as possible and keep in the fridge until ready to cook. I left mine marinating for two hours, which worked wonderfully, but I wouldn’t leave it longer than four because of the lemon juice.
COOKING THE MEAL
Heat a large braising pan, or a deep frying pan to medium-high heat, and place your chicken presentation-size down (skin-side down) in the pan. Reserve the marinade liquid in the fridge. Fry the chicken pieces for about 7 or 8 minutes, or until a nice golden brown colour is achieved.
Fry the chicken pieces for about the same amount of time on the opposite side, and turn the heat down to medium.
It’s REALLY important to marinate the chicken in the fridge, and to keep the reserved marinade in the fridge until you’re ready to use it so you don’t chance ruining your dinner with harmful bacteria.
Once you’ve added the diluted marinade to the pan, add enough water to cover the chicken about half way. Cover and simmer for about thirty mins at a low boil or until the chicken is fully cooked.
Before cooking quinoa, make sure to rinse and drain it well using a fine sieve. Bring 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth or water to a boil, and add 1 1/2 cups of rinsed and drained quinoa, stirring well. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer tightly covered, for about fifteen minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is tender.
PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER
Combine 1 cup of milk or cream (I used 2% as I wanted to keep the dish light), and two tbsp of cornstarch and mix until smooth. Slowly pour this into the chicken mixture while stirring until well blended. Turn the heat down to a very low boil, and once the mixture starts to thicken a bit, add a half cup of it to your quinoa and stir it in.
Drain the zucchini, and return it to the pot with a tbsp of butter, and some salt and pepper. Toss so all pieces are coated with the seasoned butter, and turn the heat off.
The chicken and it’s lemony-herb sauce can also be served with noodles, rice or potatoes, and any vegetable you may prefer over zucchini. No matter how you serve it, it makes a wonderful light, yet very flavourful dish that’s simple, and fairly quick to make.