When I was a little girl, I was fascinated with the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. I would pore over its beautiful illustrations of fruits, vegetables, animals, and cooking methods . . . those black and white cross-hatched pictures were my primary source for learning to cook. I have a vivid memory, at 11 years old, of standing on a stepping stool in order to reach the cutting board in our kitchen. Wielding a large chef’s knife, I kept furtively glancing at my mother sitting in the next room, hoping she wouldn’t notice that I was attempting to cut a chicken into eight pieces. Ms. Cunningham’s precise instructions and clear illustrations got me through the process with clarity and ease, although I’m sure that the chicken was a little worse for the wear by the time I was finished with it!
Although she didn’t teach me how to cut up a chicken, my mother does get full credit for this recipe. Ever since I was little (and probably before that), she has been baking chicken flavored with rosemary, garlic, and dijon mustard. The combination is always a hit — I’ve never met a person who didn’t like it. I use a similar marinade when making pan-fried tofu as well.
For this rendition, I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs — no anatomy lessons required! You can also use a whole cut up chicken, or just buy the pieces you prefer. If you are cooking bone-in pieces, you’ll need to increase the baking time considerably.
This dish goes well with a big green salad, steamed veggies, and some brown rice or other whole grain accompaniment. The leftovers are also wonderful for sandwiches the next day, so don’t be afraid to cook up a big batch!