My nephew, who lives in a tiny New York apartment, called me with a recipe emergency. He’d invited a new Potential Girlfriend (PGF) over for dinner and wanted to cook something that was cheap and easy but impressive. I thought this was ambitious for a guy whose cooking skills are limited to pouring cereal and microwaving popcorn, but I had an idea.
Henry’s understanding of ingredients is, shall we say, unsophisticated; he has probably never spoken the words “paprika” or “fennel.” But he did well with the shopping list I gave him, texting me only once when he was bewildered by varieties of olive oil.
We began Skype instruction two hours before the PGF’s ETA. “So, first you preheat your oven to 350 degrees,” I said. After a brief silence, Henry admitted that the oven was where he keeps his shoes. After a less brief silence on my end, I told him to get the (damn) shoes out of his oven and call me back. We hung up, resuming instruction five minutes later when Henry’s oven was vacated.
“Okay, turn the oven on. 350 degrees,” I said.
“Um….I’m not, like, a hundred percent sure how to…”
“Henry? Call the super. Figure it out. Call me back.”
Henry called me back twenty minutes later, his oven hot. “I’ve got this,” he said, proudly. I talked him through the recipe slowly, partly because it was hard for Henry to get his mind around food-related information, but also to allow time for the oven to burn off any residual traces of shoe. No PGF is seduced by chicken that tastes like loafers.
Henry told me the next day that the PGF gave the chicken two thumbs up. He also told me that she had provided side dishes, at which point I asked him if it was too soon to talk marriage. At least I hope he gets her to drop the P and move up to full-fledged GF status, although he’ll have to make room in the oven for some Kate Spades.
Chick Magnet Chicken
2 chicken breast halves, skin on, bone in, about 8 ounces each
2 tablespoons Boursin cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
2. Place the chicken breast halves, skin side up, in a baking dish. Using your fingers, gently lift the skin of one piece of chicken and spread one tablespoon of cheese on the breast under the skin. Replace the skin and press lightly to distribute the cheese evenly on the breast. Brush the chicken all over with olive oil. Repeat with the other chicken piece.
3. Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper, place it in the oven and cook it until the skin is golden brown and the cheese is mostly melted, about 50-55 minutes. Allow the chicken to rest for five minutes, then serve.