Everyone, it seems, goes through a phase in which they detest their given name, wondering what possessed their parents to give such a truly horrid name when it could have been something sooo much better. I used to hate my name, Melody, which implies a musical ability that is utterly lacking but is actually my great-grandmother’s maiden name. I was a kid when the show ‘Mel’s Diner’ was on TV and I used to be so annoyed when people would say ‘Hey, Mel, how’s the diner business?’. Me: Oh, that was original! No, wait, you said that yesterday too. 😛 I used to think life would have been far better if my mother had used the ‘Rachel Nadine’ that was her second choice. Instead I used those names for a couple of my favorite sheep while in high school. 😉
Now I get to watch my kids go through this. Tartlet 1 would have preferred Eleanor, Tartlet 2 has picked Beth Kate, Katie Roelle and a few others for her future stage names, Tartlet 3 likes Daisy or wishes we would change her name to Emily since most people screw it up and call her that anyway, and Tartlet 4 just wants ‘Princess’ in her title, the name after it isn’t as important.
But these little delightful bites of chicken yumminess are definitely sporting the correct moniker, ‘Delicious Chicken Bits’. I first made these last week and have already made them a second time, doubling the recipe both times. The younger kids prefer less spice and certainly by decreasing or leaving out the pepper you can adjust the heat, but my eldest loves this. I served them first with toothpicks to pick them up and tonight I served the leftovers with some yellow rice and peas. Mmm, good stuff. The chicken is amazingly tender and tasty.
Delicious Chicken Bits
(from Quick and Easy Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey)
1 1/4 lbs boned, skinned chicken breasts (4 breast pieces)
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t. ground turmeric
1/4 t. cayenne pepper (I didn’t have this on hand so I used dried chipotle)
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. dried thyme or 1/3-1/2 t. ajwain seeds (which she says are difficult to find but I didn’t even bother to look as I had plenty of thyme)
1/4 t. garlic powder
1 t. bright red paprika
3/4 t. salt
1 Tbsp. oil (I didn’t add this either time and it was just fine)
2 Tbsp. oil for cooking
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Cut each chicken breast into thirds, lengthwise, and then crosswise into 3/4-inch to 1-inch segments. Put in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes or longer. (I put this in a zip bag and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours while I did some cleaning.)
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok or large, nonstick frying pan over very high heat. When the oil is very hot, put in the chicken. Stir and fry quickly until the chicken pieces are lightly browned or turn opague on the outside. Put in a baking dish, cover loosely with lightly oiled waxed paper (which should sit inside the dish and directly on the chicken pieces), and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the chicken pieces are just cooked through. If not to be eaten immediately, remove the chicken pieces from the hot baking dish to prevent them from drying out.