Recipe: Crunchy chicken thighs with zucchini by Charlie Abowd
I know this time of year I usually share a recipe appropriate for Valentine's Day. This year, I'm doing something different and invite all of you to look at this through the prism of expanding the meaning of this day of lovers to simply be a day of love that encompasses the children, too.
This recipe can be used as a way to bring your children or grandchildren into the kitchen and share the joyful process of cooking, and for this telling, I'd like to share what I did recently.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada's Carson City site recently began a six-month teen cooking class, the first chef being Clint Jolly, Food Network's "Chopped: Restaurant Impossible Challenge" 2016 champ. Regional chefs Mark Estee, David Stern, Tommy Linnett, Josh Deri and myself were also lucky to be included.
For my presentation, I wanted to do a healthy, kid-friendly, easy-to-prepare recipe. I knew I wanted to express my love for cooking and how important cooking and sharing is. And in my mind, I wanted to prove a point the synergy of cooking and sharing with family and friends is both fun and important; that it brings an important element which is becoming lost in today's instantaneous, media-driven society.
I set out to cook a meal and show the basics of the recipe and during the process, the kids were having fun, but were also distracted by their cell phones. There was, of course, a lot of conversation going on, most of which had nothing to do with the demonstration, and I knew going in this would occur and play into part of my plan.
We plated the recipe, and the children — about 30 strong — went about dishing their plates and sitting at their tables when, lo and behold, the miracle happened!
They were eating and talking, and in fact it was a low roar punctuated by a lot of laughter, a lot of fun.
So, unexpectedly to them, I stopped them mid-bite and said, "See what I mean? Cooking and eating is fun. You're all talking to each other (their phones were down) and that's why I'm here, to show you why it is important, why I love what I do."
It gave them an expanded view of the role food plays in bringing our friends, family, people we love, together.
Congratulations to the director, the board and everyone who contributed to this wonderful asset for Carson City's children known as Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada. I've been there for staged events, but for this I came in an hour early, unannounced and saw first-hand how the club lives, breathes and works. It's impressive.
Well done, Katie Leao, (chief professional officer), staff, board and every citizen who has contributed to this fine asset.
Thanks to In Plain Sight Marketing for coordinating what turned out to be an excellent, unforgettable adventure.
Crunchy Chicken Thighs with Zucchini
Portions can be increased to serve more by adding two of each ingredient per serving.
2 boneless chicken thighs per person, skin on
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon California garlic powder
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Heat oil in a 10- to 12-inch non-stick skillet. Season the thighs using half of the seasonings. Place the chicken — skin side down — in the skillet and cook over medium heat four to five minutes, or until the skin turns crispy and slightly brown, making sure they don't stick to the skillet.
Cover with a lid and reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes until the skin is crispy. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 250 degrees and after the 15 minutes, remove the chicken thighs to an oven-safe pan, leaving the cooking fat in the skillet.
Place the zucchini and tomatoes into the skillet and cook for four minutes. Add the remaining seasoning and gently toss while cooking another 10 minutes.
When done, arrange the mixture on a platter for family-style service, or plate individual servings, placing things on top, crispy side up.
Voila! I recommend serving this with a really tasty local IPA or a crisp sauvignon blanc. For the youngers, serve chilled sparkling cider.
Chef Charlie Abowd co-owns Café at Adele's with his wife Karen Abowd. His recipes are online at Charlie's Recipes, http://www.charlieabowd.com. At 1112 N. Carson St., Café at Adele's is open daily at 8 a.m. for breakfast. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. For information or to makes reservations, call 775-882-3353, or visit adelesrestaurantandlounge.com.