Monday, November 19, 2012

How we came to enjoy Saffron Chicken

Sometime in the last two months, I got in a cooking funk.  One of those times where I was tired of using all the same recipes. Not that they weren't good recipes.  But you can only eat the same pasta dishes over and over for so many months before you want to throw the cute little bow ties right out the window.

But I'm such a picky eater.  And I find it exhausting to look through page after page (or webpage after webpage) of recipes.  Most of them either include 1) ingredients my kids won't eat 2) ingredients I won't eat or 3) directions that are beyond my scope of kitchen abilities.

What to do?

After sitting on that question for a few days, the thought came to me that I should ask my family for more input.  I started to feel bad for them.  Since I am the head chef of the household, I choose all the recipes.  I decide what goes in our mouths for dinner every night...except for birthdays and Father's Day.  I am a dinner nazi.  My poor family!  They are subject to my finickiness, affinity for pasta and rice, and aversion for all things that were once living and walking around.  I felt like it was my executive privilege to cook the meals that matched my palate.

The more I thought about it, the more I decided this was a great opportunity for change.  It would require some sacrifice on my part, but I had a vision of the possibilities and I liked what I saw.  Here's what I decided.  I was going to ask each family member to choose a meal that they would like to eat.  Something that's not normally in our dinner rotation.  That person would be in charge of helping me cook their chosen meal.  Bonus!  We would add variety to the menu AND I'd have willing helpers at dinnertime.

Andrew chose Japanese food.  That's what prompted his decision to make white sauce.  Yum.  Whitney chose turkey and yams.  (Unfortunately, we had to modify her choice, because we can't regularly eat a whole turkey.  And they are too expensive.)  Caroline chose chicken and rice and homemade tortillas.  And when I asked Brandon for his input, he said, "I don't know.  I guess something with saffron in it."  Not exactly what I was expecting to hear from my 11-year-old son.

Before I went grocery shopping, I added the new ingredients for these dinners to my list.  And I looked up a recipe for Saffron Chicken with couscous.  When I was in the grocery store, I asked for help finding the saffron.  It turns out my local Wal-Mart was all out of saffron, but the nice worker showed me where I should have been able to find it in the spice aisle.  My jaw dropped when I saw the price:  $17.96.  For one little bottle of saffron.  Come to find out, saffron is a VERY expensive ingredient.  Apparently it's the most expensive spice in the world.  Go figure!  I came home and told Brandon that he was going to have to modify his meal as well because I did not want to pay $18 for a little jar of spice that we may or may not even like!  He said he'd think about it.

In the meantime, I was perusing through out newly added grocery aisles at Target and found that they had a teeny tiny packet of saffron for only ten bucks!  AND I had a coupon for an extra 5% off.  Score!  We were SO trying Saffron Chicken.  I was crossing my fingers and hoping this would be worth it.

We grilled up some chicken breast on my grill pan that has been sitting my cupboard for six months after I bought it as an impulse purchase at Ikea because I read that they were a "must have" in some famous chef's kitchen.  It really came in handy! 

 We cooked up our couscous, red peppers, edamame, and shallots (NONE of which I had cooked with before!).  And added our 1/8 of a teaspoon of saffron threads.  One eighth!  I don't even have a measuring spoon that small.  I had to guesstimate by trying to fill the 1/4 tsp half-way.  I kept thinking, "These darn well BETTER taste good considering what we paid for them!"

Oh, wow.

Caroline was not a fan.  Then again, she is not really a fan of many foods.  The rest of us gobbled it up.  I wish my couscous would have been a little more moist, but other than that I LOVED it.

Lessons learned from this experience:

1.  Ask my family members for their input on homemaking ideas more often.

2.  Brandon has apparently been developing a refined palate behind our backs.  :)


  1. That looks delish. Can he come teach Jonas how to acquire a taste for ANY kind of spice?

  2. You know I'm a Food Network junkie and you sound like you're one of their Iron Chefs! I have a co-worker who is Iranian and every year he makes saffron rice for the people who are working on the day after thanksgiving - and since I am never working the day after Thanksgiving I've never been able to eat it.
    Next time we're in North Carolina - we're all over it!
    Mom S

  3. i am so proud of you for cooking meat! Way to go girl!

  4. Congratulations on your daring and your succeeding. Looks delicious.
    Food Nazis are good; they keep the rest of us from the bad stuff that tastes good.