“You have as many hours in a day as Beyonce.”
I saw this quote pop up on social media for the first time whilst I was at the gym 5.30 am on the cross trainer, noting down groceries for my shopping list in Evernote whilst on the phone to Amex trying to book flights to Sydney for work. My reaction to it wasn’t exactly positive. In fact I think I had interrupted Janet from Amex – who had been so patient with me because I refused to stay at a hotel more than two blocks away from Home Thai restaurant in Sussex Street – to spit out indignantly: “Beyonce has a personal assistant to book her flights for her!!!!”
Janet fell quiet on the other end of the line.
“…I’m not quite sure I understand what you are saying?” She managed to mumble timidly.
I quickly realised that I had done that thing where I say my thoughts out loud – and apologised to her profusely. She laughed when I tried to explain my reaction to that particular quote, and she admitted to being infuriated by it too. I understand that it is supposed to be motivating or inspirational but it really isn’t. Not when you’re time poor and you’re being belittled by a quote that wants you to suck it up and manage your time properly like a woman who probably has an army of people doing all her every day chores for her. Does Beyonce even pick up her own phone? Does Beyonce have to wait 25 minutes for a train if she misses the first one? Does she even cook?
And I’m not even anywhere near as time poor as Janet from Amex it seems. Janet from Amex has three children and lives two and a half hours (drive) away from her office. When the focaccia does Janet have time to be on a cross trainer – let alone think about what she’s going to make for dinner?
I don’t have children and I don’t spend 6 hours of my day travelling to and from work (unless I’m flying), but I am busy most days. In your mid twenties – when you have a career, but you are also not yet a social hermit, and you have ambitions and enjoy working on your own mini projects on the side – you end up being quite time poor. As much as I enjoy cooking and experimenting with recipes, I have to take into consideration the time all of it takes.
This is why I love one-pot dishes.
Usually when I’m developing recipes and testing them, I’ll make enough to last several lunch box meals. This is so I can whack my weekly meal prep and recipe development/testing into one time slot every Sunday – allowing me to fit more into my day. The following recipe is great for anyone too busy to mis en place 3 different dishes. It takes moments to prepare and makes a complete, nutritious meal of healthy lean protein, grains, and vegetables. It is adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe that calls for roast potatoes instead of rice. You will need a large, cast iron pot (like a casserole pot or a dutch oven) to recreate this dish.
Happy feasting, and do mind your table manners.
Wine braised chicken with roasted grapes and garlic rice
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 teaspoons fleur de sel
- Cracked pepper to taste
- 1.5 kg whole organic, free-range chicken or 8 drumsticks
- 4 onions, cut into wedges
- 4 carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1 whole head of garlic, finely chopped
- ½ a bunch of fresh rosemary, picked and finely chopped
- 1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups organic chicken stock
- 2 cups brown (or white) rice
- 2 handfuls of seedless grapes
- a few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, picked and chopped
- Preheat your oven to 190C.
- Wash the rice thoroughly.
- Separate the chicken into 8 pieces if you are not using pre-jointed pieces. Season with the fleur de sel and pepper.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large cast iron pot over medium heat. When heated, fry the chicken pieces in batches, until golden brown roughly 5 minutes each side. Set aside on a separate plate.
- Leave the fond in the pot, and add the remaining olive oil. Throw the vegetables, onion and garlic to saute for 15 minutes or until the onions are translucent and slightly caramalized.
- Stir in flour until it is absorbed into the vegetables – about 1 minute.
- Return the chicken to the pan, along with the rosemary, and turn up the heat to medium high. Let it cook for a few minutes to colour.
- Pour in the wine and turn the heat all the way up high to evaporate the alcohol. When the wine boils, turn down the heat to let the liquid simmer and reduce by about half.
- Pour in the stock and stir in the raw brown rice.
- Sprinkle half of the chopped parsley over the chicken and rice mixture.
- Cook in the oven for 35 minutes with the lid on.
- After 35 minutes, remove the lid and scatter the grapes over the chicken and rice. Leave to cook back in the oven without the lid for another 25 minutes or until the liquid has been fully absorbed by the rice and the grapes are caramalised.
- To serve, sprinkle the remaining half of the chopped parsley over the chicken and rice.
- When shopping for organic chicken, don’t be put off if it looks less plump than their supermarket counterparts and the price per kilo. Supermarket chicken can be injected full of water, so you end up actually paying more money for less meat. I buy my meat from various markets. Prahran in Melbourne has a good selection of quality organic butchers, as does South Melbourne.
- I like using brown rice because it requires less energy to produce than white rice, which needs to be heavily processed to remove the germ and the husk, then polished using talc or glucose. White rice also gets stripped of nutrients and vitamins and then requires synthetic vitamins to be added back in. These are produced in laboratories and factories from a variety of chemicals, further making a negative impact on the environment.