One Dish+One Love
I stood there as I watched him sauté diced onions in a sauté pan, his smile wider than both lengths of my arms, the fragrance of the onions beginning to spiral the kitchen—I was slowly being seduced. He then got closer to the pan and took a good whiff of the onions and said, “ Doesn’t it smell so great?” I began to laugh at his excitement over the simplest of dishes. He gained such a thrill when cooking. It was almost the same exhilaration a true chef feels when finding a new market with high quality produce at a low price. My stomach began to tickle because I knew we both shared the same passion for food that I longed for. I was finally seeing this in another person. I thought to myself, “I have found him. I’m staring right at him”. We were making chicken basquaise for two, but with an avant-garde twist because we both agreed recipes were for amateurs—you couldn’t imagine how arrogant we were.
As he sautéed the onions, I fabricated the whole chicken we purchased at a local butcher shop. We stood side by side under the beaming loft lights right above us; I was on one cutting board fabricating the chicken away and he on another board julienning the green pepper and red pepper to be used. Next I seared the chicken thighs with a bit of olive oil and placed the pan in the oven on a low temperature. “Just like Heaven” by Dinosaur Jr. began to play on his iPhone speaker. He then laid down his knife, and grabbed my arm to give me a twirl. Amongst the aroma of sweet onions we began to dance in his cramped kitchen. He looked up, staring straight into my admiring eyes .We began to laugh. I then screamed, “John the chicken is in the oven! Let’s get back to the food”. He sighed and began mincing two garlic cloves. I was dicing two tomatoes for the basquaise while taking gulps of the white wine we were to use for the sauce.
Peeking at him, I took notice of his immense focus during our preparation. He made sure everything was minced, diced, or julienned properly for even cooking and browning. He had no culinary experience, but the curiosity needed to learn was instilled in every bone of his body. The constant questions and research he would do, because he knew, well we both knew, that there is a vibrant happiness in food: a happiness that penetrates in the soul and stings like no other. Evidently food brought us closer, which is all a girl can dream of.
I sprinkled in the julienned green pepper, red pepper, and minced garlic into our sautéed onions and with a wooden spatula he tossed them around for even cooking. It was definitely a vision: the beautiful vibrant colors of the peppers wrapped in with the minced garlic. Experts have always said you eat with your eyes first; I had already been eating with mine. Now there was nothing more to do but wait; with the chicken in the oven and the peppers slowly cooking on the stove we had some down time. I quickly grabbed a small cube of my crushed tomatoes and flung it at his left cheek. He looked at me in shock but I knew he was to seek revenge. I nervously picked up a rubber spatula lying on the counter and declared war. A sizzling sound came from the peppers on the stove so the games were saved for later. Into the pan went our diced tomatoes that were reduced for a few minutes before adding the Trader Joe’s $6.99 white wine. A few minutes later, the white wine was splashed in by eye, not knowing if we were possibly too generous to the dish. We searched his cupboards for whatever spices he had. All we found was thyme, salt, paprika, and some oregano as well, which all were kindly dusted into our basquiase.
As we plated, a chill ran through me. I was feeling victorious. We grabbed two plates and carefully placed our basquaise on the center of the plates then laid each chicken thigh at an angle. Lastly, he sprinkled some fresh chopped parsley for an extra kick. With my best Julia Child accent I said, “Bon Appetit”. Sitting on two plastic foldable chairs between a table-set with a lit candle, which was all unmistakably Ikea furnishing—we indulged in our dish. We stared intently into each other’s eyes because they were glowing with satisfaction in our preparation, but I knew we were both still craving something—each other. Was I falling in love with him? Was I falling for the idea of him? There was a delightful aura that wrapped itself around the kitchen when conversing with this man. Butterflies tickled my stomach once again from the thought of another day with him. I longed for him and his kitchen.
Chicken Basquaise (2 portions)
- 1 whole chicken
- 4 tablespoons Olive oil
- 1 Spanish onion
- 1 green pepper
- 1 red pepper
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tomatoes
- White wine
- A pinch of paprika
- A pinch of oregano
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- Bundle of Parsley
- Chicken stock
- Fabricate a whole chicken into 2 chicken thighs attached to the leg. Then rub with a dash of salt and pepper.
- Heat up a skillet with a bit of olive oil and brown both sides of the chicken thighs until crispy.
- Add a little chicken stock to the skillet to retain moisture and place chicken on low temperature about 250F in oven.
- Peal and dice 1 whole Spanish onion and set aside.
- Julienne 1 red pepper and 1 green pepper and set aside.
- Mince 2 garlic cloves and set aside.
- Into a sauté pan add in your diced onions and continue to stir around occasionally.
- Once the onions have started to brown you add in your julienned green pepper and red pepper and toss this around.
- Once you see the peppers are browning add in your minced garlic (don’t add garlic before because garlic tends to brown fast and you don’t want to burn the garlic).
- Allow this to cook for a few minutes, and in the meantime cube 2 tomatoes without the skin and set aside.
- As you notice the peppers start losing its color, add in the cubed tomatoes then stir them into the pan and let half of the liquid reduce.
- Once the liquid has been reduced splash in about 1/3 cup of white wine then allow this to also reduce.
- Once reduced half way, add in your spices of choice and stir.
- Remove chicken thighs from oven and plate basquaise and chicken on a plate.
- Finishing touches: mince some parsley and sprinkle on top of the dish.
- Viola, Bon Appetit!