Now, the other night, I had all of this planned perfectly. I didn't marinate the chicken all day... I was actually planning on having this meal two nights after the night I actually made it. But again, those cravings get in the way and you just can't fight 'em. I just finished a three year tour in Guam, where all of the chicken is flown in and frozen so it has been a while since we have had fresh chicken. When I pulled the chicken out of the package, I could smell this stench that I find no words to describe. It was kind of fishy, kind of foul, but mostly chicken-like. When I looked online for some help, I read a lot of webpages that said that chicken that has never been frozen, and only refrigerated, will smell different than frozen chicken. So I pushed onward and upward.
I did wash the chicken before I cooked them. This is a habit I fell into years ago when my friend pointed out that you never know who is touching your chicken, beef, pork, etc. I don't use antibacterial stuff on it, I just give it a good hose-down and call it good. When I did that, the smell subsided some. Then, when I cooked the chicken, it was gone. Problem solved, right? Apparently, not so much.
We all sat at the table, plates piping hot and smelling delicious. The baby is sneaking fists full of rice in her mouth, and the five year old is popping baby trees before we get the blessing out. My husband is pouring our glasses of wine (an end of the day treat that we allow ourselves about three times a week) and I take a bite of that chicken to test it out. I over cooked it a little... just in case. I wanted to make sure I didn't dry it out, but at the same time, I wanted to kill everything that could have been making that smell. The bruschetta mixture was perfect. Full of strong vinegar flavors coming from the artichoke hearts and italian dressing. The sweetness of the tomatoes cut through the vinegar to make it tolerable and mouth watering. The mozzarella cheese brought some salt to the dish, and added creaminess. The chicken, however... rotten. The smell may have gone away with cooking, but the rottenness didn't. I brought the table to a halt immediately and smelled the dish. I could just barely smell a hint of fishiness and some rotten chicken smell. I told everybody to dump their plates of the chicken, and my husband began to research how to tell if your chicken is bad. His results came out the same as mine.
Frustrated that my cravings were only THAT close to being resolved, I started clearing the plates of the chicken. Hosting my own pity party, and throwing a small temper tantrum (it is my party, and I'll cry if I want to darn it) for about five minutes, the girls started getting fussy with hunger. I placed plates of rice and broccoli in front of them while my husband walked over to our pantry and grabbed out a box of Girl Scout Thanks A Lots. The girls were confused: cookies for dinner? It lifted my spirits: cookies for dinner! My cravings weren't consoled, but my pity party had been crashed by a delicious shortbread cookie with a layer of fudge on the bottom.
The dinner didn't turn out too terrible after all. Christina loved the cookies:
And while Samantha enjoyed a couple for herself, she came back to the rice and broccoli and had seconds, even thirds! She's my healthy eater:
So I guess the lesson learned that day was "If you serve bad chicken to your family, make sure you have some good cookies to make up for it!"
Here is my recipe for those of you who would like to give it a try. Feel free to add, delete, or otherwise change it up!
Chicken (enough to feed your clan). You can use any part of said chicken that you'd like... I prefer the thighs and drumsticks because the kids love those parts. My husband enjoys the bigger pieces... so white meat, dark meat, take your pick.
1 can diced tomatoes. Sometimes I use the small dices, sometimes I get the regular sized ones. It really only depends on what is on sale that week at the grocer.
1/2 bottle of italian salad dressing. Here I go with the "whatever is on sale that week" tid-bit. Last week, I used the Publix brand... but the time before that I used Wishbone. Doesn't really matter which kind. I have also used the fat free versions, and the full fat versions. It's really your choice!
1 can artichoke hearts, chopped. This is the first time I've used these in the recipe. Honestly, I was craving them and wanted to try something different. I loved them!
Mozzarella cheese: enough to top the chicken with.
Rice: enough to feed your clan.
Broccoli: enough to feed your clan.
Combine your can of chopped artichoke hearts, diced tomatoes, and 1/2 bottle of italian dressing. Reserve about 1/3 of it for later. Use the other 2/3 of it as a marinade for your chicken pieces. You can put them in a gallon sized bag, but I use this Tupperware marinade thingy and love it. I tend to make this in the morning after I clean up the breakfast dishes and flip it every other hour or so. Forget to toss it together that early? No problem! It works well as a 20 minute marinade as well. Once you're ready to pop it in the oven, make sure it's preheated at 375* and cook until done. Don't cook in the marinade juices, toss those. But about 5 minutes before you're ready to pull those bad boys out, top the last 1/3 of your marinade on the chicken pieces, and sprinkle some cheese on top. Serve with rice and steamed broccoli (or your choice of vegetables) and you've got yourself a healthy, flavorful, low fat meal!