I’ve been trying all week to think of what to write for Mother’s Day, as I have a truly wonderful mom. The thing is, I write about cooking and baking, gardening and shopping – none of which interest her in the least.
Don’t get me wrong. My mom served a tasty, well-balanced dinner every night (except for Saturday, when she and my dad would go out, and I was allowed to pick from one of my beloved “tv dinners” that were off-limits the rest of the week). It’s just that cooking was never her passion. She was not an adventurous eater growing up and I think that informed her style of cooking as a wife and mother. And forget about baking. Her mother was a baker to end all bakers, so there was never a need or desire for her to learn.
That said, there is a “signature” dish that my mom made. Literally. It’s called “Bev’s Chicken”, and it contains 3 ingredients: a cut-up chicken, bottled Italian dressing and cornflake crumbs. I don’t know how the dish became so-named but it’s been that way for as long as I can remember.
When a friend suggested that I share this recipe for Mother’s Day I thought, no way. It’s too simple, too pedestrian and really – how embarrassing! Bottled Italian dressing? Pre-packaged cornflake crumbs? For shame! How could I reveal this dish as something that I make on a way-too-regular basis?
But here’s the thing: Bev’s Chicken is completely delicious. For real. And it’s insanely quick and easy to make – which, even for the most skilled and experienced cook, comes in handy. In fact, I always keep several batches of marinated chicken in the freezer – when pressed for time or having a cook’s “mental block”, it’s heaven-sent to be able to defrost a bag, toss with some crumbs and throw it in the oven. Some rice and a vegetable and dinner is done. It tastes great served warm or cold, and my friend Nancy has even made her own version with pork chops.
It’s called, naturally, “Bev’s Pork Chops”.
But back to Bev – how does this simple little dish do justice to my lovely mom on Mother’s Day – of all days?
It’s warm, comforting and never, ever fails me.
Just like my mom.
It’s more complex and interesting than you might have thought upon first glance.
Just like my mom.
It fills my kitchen with love.
Well….. you get it.
Of course, my mom has countless other wonderful qualities that I can’t quite equate to a chicken dish. She has taught me so many important lessons and has shaped much of who I am today (or at the very least strive to be):
Always be straightforward and honest.
Be a friend who is consistent, reliable and loyal to the end.
Sometimes bad things happen to good people and there is no reason, justification or explanation for why. It just is.
It is better to have a few really good friends, rather than many “acquaintances”.
In competition, kick ass and take no prisoners (this last one meant that she was never – ever – allowed to play Candyland with my young children till they were old enough to handle her “victory dance”).
And, most importantly,
When you are needed, be there. No matter what it takes, what time of day, or how far you need to travel.
I love you , Mom – Happy Mother’s Day!
1 whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces – remove the skin if desired (I always do and promise you won’t miss it)
1 bottle (8 0z.) Wish Bone Italian dressing
Kellogg’s Cornflake Crumbs
Marinate the chicken in dressing for several hours or overnight (you can also place the chicken and dressing in a gallon ziploc bag and freeze. I make several batches this way to have at the ready. Defrost in the refrigerator prior to using).
Pre-heat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a cooling rack on top. Spray the rack with a non-stick cooking spray (such as Pam).
Place some cornflake crumbs in a plastic bag. Add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, and shake till evenly coated. Place chicken on rack.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
This delicious recipe brought to you by Sheri Silver