I wanted to bring a cookbook to work with me last Sunday because my phone charging cable is under-performing, so I needed other diversions. I didn’t want to bring something that would look like a cookbook, since my breaks are spent sitting at a bar, and the last thing I’m about is calling attention to myself at a bar, or appearing pretentious. So I found these two thin paperback cookbooks with plain white backs I could easily just flip over and tuck away.
As it turned out, I had little time for reading since my co-worker (whose first words to me through an impossibly large grin were “Reading recipes??” as I attempted to ‘tuck away’ the book a millisecond too late) chatted my ear off on our breaks about every possible subject you could ever hope not to discuss at a bar. You know… religion, government, the looming AI apocalypse… not that I didn’t start some of these conversations…
Before he showed up I managed to get through a few pages of “Favorite Seafood Recipes of the Eastern Shore” (Long Island). Firstly, I discovered it was given to me by my Mom on my 24th birthday. Then I concluded that flounder was abounding and affordable on Long Island, until just now when I re-realized the title of the book (Eastern Shore aka The Hamptons). Then I went back to the hilarious first recipe: “Easy Flounder” – fillets, salt & pepper, butter and paprika. Yes – that works. Does it belong in a cookbook? Not sure!
There was a startling absence of spices in all the recipes I looked at as well as a few… curious ingredient combinations that the absurd part of my humor really wants to try and probably will. Opposite this culinary wonder was the copyright page. I noted the date (1980), the boring and stuffy name of the author and then the tiny attribution on the bottom of the page. “Calligraphy by p. dutery”. Aww, someone’s humble.
Then it dawned on me. Holy crap! The entire 32 page cookbook was written in a beautiful hand and printed in soothing blue ink. <cue conversation with co-worker about the complete decline of artisan work in our country> I now love this cookbook, and yes, we will be trying such oddball recipes as “Swordfish with Apples” & “Baked Cod with Cheese” (my eyebrow is all the way up right now).
What does this have to do with Cheesy Chicken Thigh and Potato Bake? Not one freaking thing! What is there to say? It’s chicken thighs – the best chicken meat; potatoes which usually equal comfort food; it’s a bake – yep, comfort food; and there’s cheese. You know you’re thinking about making this. Good day. I said “good day”!!
4decent sized russet potatoesscrubbed and chopped into bite size pieces (3/4")
1yellow bell pepperseeded and chopped into 1 inch squares
1red bell pepperseeded and chopped into 1 inch squares
1big handfulgreen beanstrimmed and cut in half
1TBSPextra virgin olive oil
1 1/2TBSPgarlic infused olive oil
1/2tspground black pepperdivided
1TBSPfresh thyme leaves
1TBSPfresh rosemary leavesminced
1heaping tspdried basil
1cupsharp cheddar cheesepreferably white
Preheat oven to 425 F. Prepare a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with cooking spray.
Combine thyme and rosemary in a small bowl – then divide in half.
In a large bowl, combine potatoes, bell peppers, green beans, garlic infused oil, half of the thyme/rosemary, 3/4 tsp of salt and1/4 tsp black pepper. Toss until all veggies are covered in oil and herbs.
Combine the rest of the salt and pepper and fresh herbs with the smoked paprika.
Spread out veggies in baking dish to form a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes.
Brush the tops of the chicken thighs with regular olive oil and sprinkle the spice mix on them.
After the 15 minutes, remove from oven. Add the chicken to the veggies in the baking dish and give them a little push into the veggies with your tongs.
Brush the chicken thigh tops with the extra virgin olive oil and then sprinkle with the remaining spice/paprika mix.
Bake for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (165 F).
Sprinkle the shredded cheddar on top and bake until the cheese melts – no more than 3-4 minutes. Remove from oven and serve!
for a Spanish-style dish, add whole or halved green olives (pimento stuffed okay) into the potato mix – 1 cup max.
for crunchier green beans, leave out and then stir into veggies before adding chicken.
for a more Italian style, add 1/2 tsp dried oregano and use mozzarella cheese instead of cheddar.
this dish is essentially low-fodmap; just make sure your cheese is lactose-free if dairy is an issue.
I accidentally bought bone-in thighs. When I de-boned them, they laid much flatter and skinnier than the ones de-boned at the store. This made for a much more appealing dish to look at and eat, cost less, and took a little less baking time!
Music to cook by: Granados “Album of Melodies” by Douglas Riva
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