Last night I overdosed on Korean chicken wings, which are honestly without a doubt the best wings I’ve ever had. The place is on the second floor of an otherwise nondescript building. I love hidden gems where you have to climb a set of stairs in a place you would never believe houses a restaurant and enter into a food mecca. With wings and soju causing me physical pangs of regret tonight, I hit the gym and then decided to make my own chicken.
Blackened Cajun chicken is very easy to make. They key is in the blackening. My brother’s roommate is a chef at a very well known restaurant in New York and showed me that the simple trick to this is letting it blacken on a pan on high heat for about 5 minutes on each side after adding the cajun spice, lemon pepper, garlic or whatever other spices you’d like.. After this I bake it at about 375 for thirty minutes.
I like this dish because it’s quick, easy to prepare and I get to use all of the spices I bought in New Orleans. The flavor of this dish channels the majestic, exuberant spirit of freedom that New Orleans embodies. When after the daily grind I find myself craving an antidote to anger, crowds and cynicism, this dish is a steeling reminder of a culture that winks at skepticism, laughs at dry, sober analysis, embraces its circumstances and relishes the joy found in the things that matter. There is something communal about New Orleans perhaps in spite of or because of its fierce individuality. Because of that, this dish is best when shared. The bayou culture with its mix of disparate histories has inspired the birth of new foods, music and art. Cajun chicken night brings all of that marching into my home and it insists its way onto the table. Creating it and sharing it, for me, is a testament to the fact that work, chores and routines are only a part of what defines us. There are other ways to live, new ways to react to the hands we are dealt and different attitudes to posture in facing our world. We just have to remember them and seek them out.