Selma won Food52’s Contest for “Your Best One Pot Meal” back in January 2014 for this chicken dish, which I’ve had tagged to cook up for nearly a year.If you know Food52 you know it’s a very popular and reputable food website/community helmed by the former NY Times Food Editor Amanda Hesser, lots of other serious professionals, and an army of talented home cooks, so winning the contest was no small potato. In addition, we’ve recently learned that Food52 will be posting a “Dinner Tonight” tribute to Selma soon, which to me shows that even though they are a Big Deal, they stay small in knowing and recognizing their people. And Selma was one of their people, a very active member of Food52 with lots of posted recipes and photographs.
Back to the recipe: After making it last night I see why it won. Not only is it extraordinarily easy to make in that you throw together the marinade ingredients with the chicken, chickpeas and potatoes, and then you cook it, but it’s also a tangy, savory flavor bomb. No browning of the chicken, no draining, no straining. And an hour or so later you’ve got this:
In the recipe instructions, Selma tells us “Serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt or tzatziki on the side and prepare to be worshipped.” Love that.
It’s a perfect choice for my contribution to Selma’s Tribute which I am co-hosting along with my friends Elaine@foodbod, jhuls@thenotsocreativecook and angie@novicegardener. You can join the tribute by ADDING YOUR LINK HERE.
One of Selma’s talents was sniffing out tips and hacks and I think I could glean a tip from this recipe which is, if you want a downright velvet and lip-smacking pan sauce, add a touch of mayonnaise to whatever you’re roasting. It’s a perfect binder for the marinade and, together with the chicken drippings, makes an outrageously delicious and sticky pan sauce. My only deviations from Selma’s recipe were to roast the chicken whole (out of lazyness), add a sliced onion to the bottom of the pan, and squeeze a lemon atop towards the middle of cooking time. Oh yeah, and I put everything in the pan I’d just cooked 2 grass-fed beef burgers in. I am like Selma in that I don’t have a dishwasher (she eventually got one) and I don’t like washing up.
There’s been an veil of sadness in our home and in my heart since Selma’s passing and this dish brought some joy and warmth.
When late June came around I realized I hadn’t heard from Selma on Instagram or elsewhere in a few weeks, so I pulled up her blog and saw that she hadn’t posted since May, and hadn’t posted any photographs on IG in several weeks. I knew this was an aberration and was concerned, so sent her a comment on her last blog post. When I didn’t hear back I hoped she was just super busy with Jake and summer. It’s a bit eery to read through her blog and the last comment, which went unanswered, like a lonely question mark. Selma had been quietly and privately dealing with her illness.
I will forever be grateful that I met Selma. She had so many words of encouragement for me and her comments would make me laugh so hard sometimes. She was kind, witty, stylish, funny, smart and . . . she was just cool. I felt a connection to Jake, too, because Selma early on nabbed my husband as a “dandy,” offering that her son was one, too. So often we exchanged comments about our dandymen.
It’s sad to not have Selma around any more and frankly in my mind, just not fair. But Selma wouldn’t have me getting all crazy with thinking about the unfairness of life, raging against the cancer machine, wondering why things happen, and go really morbid on the meaning of life and where we go when we die, etc.
I know Selma is chilling with the other baking angels and sourdough fairies in heaven. I don’t really know what I mean by heaven except I believe that a soul such as Selma’s ought to be in that place right now we’ve been told is all peace and love, and unity with a benevolent Creator. That’s what I want to believe. Thank you for visiting this site and joining me in honoring this wonderful woman Selma Jeevanjee.
Serves 4 to 6
**note: the recipe calls for a roasting pan but I used a medium sized enameled saucepan (more shallow than a roasting pan) because I like the chicken to be exposed to the air for the skin to crisp.