Sil’s Baked (and creative) Chicken

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I’ve been following recipes, to a tee, for well over 4 decades. I’ve never waivered from a recipe, or tried to substitute one ingredient for another. If I didn’t have an ingredient, I’d go out to the store to get it. If the recipe called for tomato puree and I only had diced tomatoes, out I went, or I’d put the recipe away for another day when I had all the ingredients listed, exactly as listed. Never would I chance changing the intended taste of the recipe. Never!

Then one day, rather recently, I was in a frenzy looking for a recipe that I wanted to make for dinner. It was a chicken dish, which included artichokes and mushrooms, but that was all I could remember. I had already purchased the canned artichokes and the fresh mushrooms, but I couldn’t go on without the recipe.   I couldn’t find it anywhere. I frantically went on to the web and punched in the words, “chicken with artichokes.” All sorts of recipes came up, but I didn’t have all the ingredients required for any of them. I could feel a cold sweat taking over my body, as I watched the clock tick closer to dinner-time. I took a deep breath, and said to myself, “Okay, Sil, you can do this. Just look in the pantry and pull out whatever you think might work well together with chicken. You can do it!”

Once I got over the initial fear, I actually had a wonderful time creating my own recipe. It was a very different experience for me. Instead of following someone else’s idea of what would taste good, I created my own. To my delight, it was delicious. Aside from nourishing my stomach, I felt as if I’d fed my creative self. Perhaps that’s overly dramatic, but the experience was rather freeing. Since that evening, I still honor my recipes, but if I am missing an ingredient, I just let the creative juices flow.

RECIPE: serves 6

2  3 lb. chickens, cut in eighths

2  14 ounce cans of artichoke hearts, drained

2  8 ounce jars sundered tomatoes (in oil)

8 ounces fresh Shitake mushrooms, roughly sliced

3 garlic cloves, sliced

1 cup of dry white wine

drizzle of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

  1.  Wash the chicken and pat dry.  Place in large baking pan.
  2. Salt and pepper each piece.
  3. Add the garlic, artichokes, mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes (with as much of their oil as you like).
  4. Pour the wine over all and then drizzle,lightly, with olive oil.
  5. Cover with foil and put in preheated 350 degree oven.
  6.  Bake covered for 30 minutes.  Then remove foil and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes.

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