I am a tweaker of recipes. I cannot help but eat something at a restaraunt, or find a recipe in a magazine, and think of ways to recreate and edit it. This is how one of my favorite meals came into existence.
I was staying at Alex’s apartment about five or six years ago, and she’d just found this recipe for Chicken Roulade in a magazine and wanted to try it. We went to her local grocery store, picked up all of the ingredients, and spent an hour or so hammering chicken breasts into oblivion to reach the desired thinness. The final result turned out quite nice. it tasted good, it was very attractive on the plate, but something was missing for me. SPICE. I remade the recipe over and over again with different variations, until I found exactly what it needed: Old Bay and garlic!
I became hooked on Old Bay in college, after a visit to Louisianna and a few too many crawfish boils. It was the spice of my dreams. I started eating a lot more fish when I came back, and making a dish I like to call “poor man’s crawfish” which really was nothing more than a package of immitation crab and a few sprinkles of Old Bay. For a long time, I thought of Old Bay as solely a spice for those meats of the shelled and scaled variety. I never dreamed of putting it on anything else, until my mother, who I hooked on the delicious spice medley, recommended I put it on chicken. That was when this recipe was born.
First Alteration: Skip the pounding. What a pain in the ass that process was. I live in apartment buildings, so if I beat things with a mallet long enough, my neighbors are going to call the cops and think I’m upstairs murdering my roommate. Also, the pounding is messy; who wants raw chicken juice splattered everywhere? Also, I cannot taste the difference between a well pounded piece of poultry, and a regular piece (red meat is a different story). So do away with it. In order to get everything to cook evenly, I choose to cut the chicken breasts I’m using into strips. This also exposes more surface area to the juices and spices, making it taste that much better. You can choose to make this recipe with either full boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or with strips, your call. I usually do two at a time, but feel inclined to double or triple the recipe accordingly (if you have a big enough skillet).
Second Alteration: Add garlic! Garlic is one of my favorite things on this planet. I’m going to share a secret with you that you may or may not already know…there is an easier way to peel cloves of garlic! I spent hours upon hours of my childhood peeling cloves of garlic for my mother and grandmother with my tiny nimble fingers, only to find out they could have been using this little trick all along. I was actually taught this method by an ex. The relationship was worth it for this garlic peeling time-saver, if nothing else.
Lay your head of garlic upright on a hard surface (table, counter, cutting board). Take a frying pan, and smash it like Tom and Jerry used to try to do to each others’ heads in old cartoons. Then, take the smashed mess, drop it in a pot, put the lid on, and shake it vigorously. When you are done, you’ll open the pot, and there will be tons of naked cloves and a lot of papery peels. Hooray!
Next, either dice your garlic, or use a garlic press, your choice. Personally, I find dicing the garlic adds just as much flavor, but I know many people are partial to presses and dislike eating actual chunks of diced garlic in their meal. Saute the garlic in canola or olive oil, and then add the chicken.
Immediately after adding the chicken, empty the contents of 1 can of diced tomatoes (or 2 fresh tomatoes, diced), 1 cup of water, and 1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning. If you are sensitive to spices, you may want to add less Old Bay. Cook on medium-high heat for ten minutes.
Next, add two cups of fresh spinach or baby spinach to the pan, and stir everything together. Cook for another five minutes (or until the chicken is cooked all the way through and the spinach has wilted).
When it is done, serve it in bowls with large spoonfuls of tomatoes and the accompanying juices. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top.
This recipe can also be made with fish, and tastes specifically delicious with white fish. I just remove the cheese from the recipe when making it a seafood dish.
Our recipe for Old Bay Chicken was shared at The Weekend Social.
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 can of diced tomatoes (or two fresh tomatoes)
- 2 cups of fresh spinach
- 1 cup of mozzarella
- 1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning
- ½ head of garlic
- ½ tablespoon of canola oil
- 1 cup of water
- Finely dice or press garlic
- Add canola oil and garlic to pan, and put on low heat
- Cut chicken into strips and add to pan once garlic and oil have heated and begin to sizzle
- Add diced tomatoes, cup of water, and Old Bay seasoning to the pan and mix
- Cook on medium-high heat for ten minutes
- Add fresh spinach to the pan, mix, and cook for another five minutes (or until chicken is fully cooked)
- Remove from heat
- Serve in bowls, and sprinkle mozzarella on top