At this point in life, it’s critical to have a dish or meal that you are fully confident in whipping out at a moment’s notice. Gone are the days of impressing your friends or a date with an oven-baked frozen pizza – “adulting” means knowing how to wield a pan or two.
A signature dish can go two ways:
Be an extremely labour-intensive meal that requires a lot of ingredients (as well as your blood, sweat and tears). Recipe must be followed to the T or else you should not have bothered. Your hard work usually culminates in a “Wow, this is delicious!” from your dining partner before you pass out from exhaustion.
Keep it simple, stupid. Use a tried and true recipe that will impress your guests with how easy it is and how remarkable it tastes.
Having dabbled with both, I tend to stick to the latter. While there is a certain amount of pride that comes from pulling off a 5-hour lasagna, it is not the most time-efficient meal to prepare. Keep in mind your signature dish can change or evolve (much like your signature perfume) – maybe season to season, with your mood or with your stage in life. The best way to find yours? Trying lots of recipes and practice. My favourite places to find inspiration are:
Tastespotting – a food blog aggregator with a search function. I have spent countless hours clicking through page after page, usually accompanied by a growling stomach.
Pinterest – learn how to DIY an indoor Christmas wreath OR make a heart-warming boeuf bourguignon! There’s a reason this site is so popular. So many recipes at your fingertips, especially for gluten-free, vegetarian/vegan and paleo/keto diets.
My mom. If you tell her you know me, she’ll help you out too.
So, enough chat. What’s my signature dish?
Lemon Butter Chicken, courtesy of Damn Delicious. This recipe is wholly Chungah Rhee’s and, served over rice, is tasty enough to make you cry. It is also relatively quick to make and most of the ingredients are probably already in your cupboard – a huge win in my books.
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups baby spinach, chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Season chicken thighs with paprika, salt and pepper, to taste.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, skin-side down, and sear both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side; drain excess fat and set aside.
Melt remaining tablespoon butter in the skillet. Add garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, heavy cream, Parmesan, lemon juice and thyme.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat, stir in spinach, and simmer until the spinach has wilter and the sauce has slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Return chicken to the skillet.
Place into oven and roast until completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 25-30 minutes.