Monday, April 23, 2012

Pollo a lo Anja (Anja-Style Chicken)

In the year 2001, Nigella Lawson changed my life. She made me want to cook for the first time. Ever. She made me want to be her, with her effortlessly elegant gestures, her impossibly alluring British accent, her casually-cool outfits, bohemian kitchen, and the implicit promise that cooking would not be about being a little woman trapped in a kitchen, but about creativity, individuality, and maybe even about designing my own brand of authentic-sexy.  

The reason I didn't think any of these things until I saw the first episode of "Nigella Bites," is that when I was twenty-one, and newly-married, I burned a TV dinner, and my then husband thought that would be a good time to tell me that women who couldn't cook were not real women as far as he was concerned. His own mother, who is a wonderful lady, and my daughters' maternal grandmother, had given birth to 24 children, and had been cooking for them all her life. 

I remember deciding then and there that if he was right, I'd be the first very real woman who didn't cook, didn't have to cook, and would be damned if she cooked.

Yep, I sure showed him, but it was my loss. I would have been a great cook! I know because post-Nigella, I began experimenting with what I call "Lazy Cooking." It is all about comforting dishes made very simply, with just a few ingredients, and not a lot of thought to method. It's become a form of meditation. Another form of talking to myself. 

So you can imagine my delight when food enthusiast and fellow blogger, Veronica Cervera, invited me to submit an author's recipe to her blog, "La cocina de Vero, al minuto y con comida." 

I wanted to send something that reminded me of Nigella and the things she had inspired. I chose my "Pollo con Papas a la mantequilla" (Butter Chicken and Potatoes) and sent it in. It takes about 20 minutes to make and requires only four ingredients: chicken (preferably dark meat), potatoes (you don't have to peel them if you don't want to, just wash thoroughly), real butter (organic, if possible) and any Caesar Vinaigrette Salad Dressing you can find. 

It is delicious and addictive and sensuous if I could find a way to make it less fattening, I'd eat it every week. You place the chicken in a pan at medium heat with a little salt, water and butter. When it's mostly cooked, you add potato slices about a half-inch thick. Then more butter and about half a bottle of the Caesar Vinaigrette dressing. After that, you just stir occasionally, allowing the mixture of butter and dressing to simmer, until chicken is completely cooked, and potatoes are soft. That's it. 

I love making and eating this super simple dish. it is perfect for cold days, for when you're feeling a little run-down, but are not in the mood for soup, or for romantic weekends in bed. 

If you have ideas for alternatives to the butter or the dressing, please share with me here. In the meantime, here's a link to Veronica's version of my dish and to her fabulous blog:   Bon Appetit!


  1. Anja, darling, thanks for your words about my blog. Your recipe was indeed easy to prepare, delicious and yes, sexy.
    Reading this post I remember that day: the flavor of butter, vinaigrette and frijoles negros, mmmmm.

  2. Thank you, Vero. I'm a fan. (A ver si aprendo a cocinar.) :)

  3. Anja (y Vero),
    Last night I cooked the "Pollo con Papas a la mantequilla" (adding the Ceasar dressing that vero recommended) and it was a hit! For the past couple years I've ended in charge of the kitchen, dont ask me how -just a few years ago I didnt know how to boil an egg-; my partner is the pseudo chef at home. But going back to the "Pollo con Papas a la mantequilla"... it was a great! Even the pseudo-chef liked it.
    Jose M

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