As I write this introduction, a good-sized chunk of the planet has been pretty much forced to eat most of their meals at home. For some members of the suburban bourgeoisie, this has led them to descend on their local state capitals, suspiciously expensive guns un hand, to loudly scream their desire to eat crappy food at chain restaurants, plague or no! Others (hi!) have newly subscribed to publications like Bon Appetit and The New York Times cooking website looking for something, anything that can recreate all the delicious crap I could eat at places that were only a short train ride and one less global pandemic away from my apartment.
Nothing’s wrong with the websites and magazines dedicated to exotic looking recipes for the professional class. I’ve made several recipes from them, some I’ve even made again. On the whole however, these recipes lack a personal touch. Maybe the word ‘history’ is more appropriate? Sure, a steak cooked in a ‘Vietnamese style’ marinade will be tasty, but any beef cooked at Vietnamese restaurant where the cooks know what they’re doing will club it over the head and bury it somewhere in the Pine Barrens for daring to step to it. The best dishes I’ve had, no matter what style, were always made by a person who has spent time mastering a dish like an artisan masters a craft. Think of it this way: bread fresh baked in a grocery store is delicious, but it can’t hold a candle to the neighborhood bakery.
The NYC based rapper Meyhem Lauren has become my personal guru for home cooking over the last weeks, precisely because of the way he tackles making food. He’s also the co-star of Action Bronson’s hilarious travel/food show F*uck That’s Delivious! Watching his videos is like watching a painter make masterpieces with the finger paints he found in his kid’s playroom. He eyeballs ingredients rather than measures them, creates whole dishes with no more kitchen hardware than some pans and a tablespoon and through it all dispenses homegrown kitchen wisdom in quotable quotes that I’ve applied to all my cooking in the recent months.
-“Always roll your limes, you got to let them reach your full potential.”
-“Always keep one clean hand, and one chicken hand.”
-“Never take a knife to basil, never disrespect it that way.”
I now follow all of these rules and scream them as I do it, such is the power of Meyhem Lauren’s brain worms. He’s a large, wide Buddha of the kitchen that does push-ups to M.O.P. and carries himself with an internal Zen of a warrior under fire, but the fire is from the stove. This guy once ate a lamb’s eyeball on an episode of F*ck That’s Delicious, and barely blinked. Kitchen-wise, I’d follow him to Hell.
One of the first Meyhem Lauren recipes we decided to try was his “Unity Sandwich.” It’s a type of chicken sandwich based around the idea of combining white and dark meat (chicken thighs) and “the born and the unborn” parts of the chicken (i.e. it’s a sandwich with an egg on it). Our plan was to make the whole sandwich, but we lacked the necessary ingredient of manchengo cheese. Meyhem Lauren himself says that “if you don’t have manchengo hanging around the house, don’t even make this sandwich. Don’t disrespect me, or yourself.” However, the chicken Lauren creates with a simple marinade of lemon juice, thyme, rosemary and paprika, stewed to buttery softness, looked to good to pass up, so we made it. Here’s how we did it.
- 8 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
- 3 lemons
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne
- 5 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and chopped, plus 2 whole sprigs
- 3 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped, plus 1 whole sprig
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1. Place the chicken in a medium bowl. Squeeze 2 of the lemons over the top and add in 1/4 cup of the oil, the poultry seasoning, paprika, cayenne, the chopped thyme, and the chopped rosemary. Season with salt and pepper and let sit for 10 minutes.
2. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium. Add the sprigs of thyme and rosemary, as well as the garlic. Infuse gently for 3 minutes, then increase the heat to medium-high. Add the chicken and cook, flipping once, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Squeeze the remaining lemon over the top and transfer the chicken to a plate. Add in the jalapeño and onion and cook until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onion mixture to the plate with the chicken. Wipe the skillet clean.
The marinade Meyhem Lauren created can go on any form of chicken, and I’ll eat it. Since we first made this recipe, we’ve marinated thighs and breasts with it, put it in sandwiches and stir fries and eaten it as is over rice. If you’ve ever searched for a chicken marinade that retains incredible flavor without drying out the chicken, this is the only marinade you’ll ever need. It goes with any vegetables, any starch, and only enhances whatever stir-dry or pasta dish it’s stirred into.
Here is the link to the original video and article, we highly recommend: