The calendar indicates spring is around the corner. The emerging daffodils through the ground confirm it. But I’m not feeling it. Are you?
Winter is fickle. Maybe that’s why citrus is in season during the winter months. To give us a fresh, tangy, zingy bite. Sometimes that is all I want to lift my mood. But then the next day I want cozy comfort, such as a soup or stew. Guess I’m fickle too.
This recipe gives me both. The comforts of tender baked chicken, the earthiness of beans, and the bright tang from lemon, capers and vinegar. Spices are other major players in this dish.
The slow cooking makes the chicken fork tender. It also gives the spices times to give up their flavor. But if your spices are old, they may not bring much to the dish.
How can you tell? If the spice smells strong, it’s probably still potent. To smell whole spices, crush or break them to release the aroma. Ground spices are already crushed or broken. Ground spices quickly lose their aroma and flavor, so unless you are a spice lover, it is best to buy in small quantities. Ground spices are good for about a year — 2 years for whole spices. I try to write the date I buy on the label to help track shelf life.
Air, light and moisture are the enemies to spice storage. They speed flavor loss in herbs and spices. To help them last, store spices and dried herbs airtight in a cool, dry place, away from heat and moisture. So that means away from your oven, stovetop, refrigerator, dishwasher or heating vent.
One other tip: Avoid sprinkling spices and herbs directly from the container into a steaming pot to prevent moisture from entering the container. I like rectangular shaped measuring spoons because they fit in the spice jar and I can easily sprinkle from them.
Because dried herbs are generally more potent and concentrated than fresh herbs, you’ll need less. Typically three times the amount of fresh herbs as dry. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano, you need 1 teaspoon of dried, since 3 teaspoons equal 1
Taste is the number one reason why one food is chosen over another. The taste of this dish is one I want more. From the looks of the forecast, I have a few more weeks to enjoy this easy, one-pot meal. Thankfully it’s a do over.
Judy Barbe is a registered dietitian, speaker and author of “Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest: Simple Solutions for Fresh Food & Well-Being.” Visit her website www.LiveBest.info for every day food solutions.