Ok, ok, I know what you're thinking. Wtf is Deezy's Chichi? These are no more than three nonsensical syllables. She's finally lost it. She's snapped. She's shouting incoherently into the void and one would be wise to Navigate Away post haste. But no! Stop! Wait!!
Let's break it down. Deezy is short for Anna Deezy, Dear Friend and Loyal Reader. Now on to chichi. Those that know me know I love nicknames and abreves-- I'm Very Busy and don't have time to be pronouncing endless syllables all day! ...etc. Deezy calls chicken chichi and now so do I, exclusively. Deezy recently reached out to me and asked if I would consider developing a recipe that would fit her dietary restrictions (which she follows for health reasons). How could I refuse? I thought it would be a fun and interesting challenge, and I wanted to give something back since she is a huge supporter of this blog and a great Encourager of Me in general.
I know what it's like to deal with restrictive diets. As a youngster my sisters and I all had different food sensitivities, and my Mama carefully cooked us incredible homemade meals that worked around all our various restrictions. Personally I didn't eat wheat, milk, eggs, or chocolate as a kid (I mean ok OCCASIONALLY but mostly I was about that Carob Lyfe). I'm incredibly grateful to Mama for taking such pains to keep my diet free of these things, because now as an adult I can eat them in moderation and feel fine (I mean sure if I eat nothing but pasta for a week I prob won't feel my best but I'm pretty sure that's everyone). These days I go through phases of cutting various foods out to try to manage my own Fun Set of low key chronic health issues (with widely varying intensity and success rates). Bottom line, I get how tiring it is to constantly monitor what you're eating, stress about finding good options that fit your restrictions, feel self conscious about being high maintenance when eating out, or just cook the same things for yourself on repeat unntil you're bored out of your mind. Been there time and again!
So, when Deezy reached out I was excited to come up with a recipe for her. Among the things she can't eat are: dairy (sob), GARLIC (double sob), beans, coconut, turmeric, ginger, pineapple, and avocado. A tough list! Dairy is a huge part of my life (CHEEEEESE), but I do enjoy cooking vegan as well so no huge deal. Garlic was a bit of a stumper for me because I use it ALL the time in practically everything. With avoiding those two, my next thought was Something Indian-ish; but without turmeric, ginger, or coconut? It was a non starter. So. It was definitely a challenge for me, forced me to go outside of my comfort zone a bit. It also filled me with compassion and respect for how tough it is to follow a restrictive diet and how much of a commitment to your health it truly is! Mad respect to Deezy for living that Home Cooked Life and being dedicated to self care in this way!
Deezy loves chichi so I decided to go with a simple one-pan roast amped up with some of her favorite veggies. I chose sumac, a lovely lemony spice, as the jumping off point and ended up with a za'atar inspired marinade. Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice mix that typically includes sumac, sesame, thyme, and oregano. I added cumin to round things out and chili for a bit of spice. Deezy is also into meal prep, so this recipe does double duty: a hearty dinner for two, or a quick way to bang out lunches for the next few days. Or dinner for one with plenty of leftovers. You get the idea.
My hope is that you will eat this dish and not feel like anything is missing. That's the mark of a good specialty diet dish, if you ask me. Also, I would love to hear about your dietary restrictions! I want to develop more recipes designed just for you, whatever your preferences or restrictions are. Open call for requests! Sound off in the comments, let me know what your restrictions are, general (i.e. vegan, paleo, whole30, etc) or specific (no rutabega or peanut butter, etc). Feel free to include preferences for type of recipe (salad, soup, breakfast, etc) and a few of your favorite ingredients if you'd like! I will do my best to come up with something you'll love. Mean time, enjoy Deezy's Chichi!
two pounds drumsticks
one large sweet potato
three portabella mushrooms
one tablespoon sumac
one tablespoon cumin
½ tablespoon red chili pepper
½ tablespoon kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
½ c extra virgin olive oil
juice of one large lemon plus one lemon cut into wedges
a few sprigs each fresh oregano and fresh thyme plus extra thyme leaves for garnish
Start by preparing the veggies: stem the mushrooms and slice them into three wide strips each. Wash the sweet potato (and peel if desired, I prefer to leave the skin on) and cut into large wedges. You should have at least 8. Set veggies aside.
Mix the sumac, cumin, red chili, and salt together in a small bowl (or large liquid measuring cup). Add the olive oil, lemon juice, and a few big grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine and set aside.
Place a gallon ziplock bag inside a large tupperware container (I actually double bag it and still use the tupperware-- this is where you will marinate your chicken and I am paranoid about raw chicken). Put the mushrooms in first, then add half the herb sprigs. Layer the sweet potatoes in next, tossing the rest of the herbs on top. Add the chicken to the bag, wash your hands, then pour the marinade over everything. Seal the bag, squishing out as much air as you can. Turn and squish around the sealed bag a bit (maybe double bag it if you haven't already) to make sure everything is getting nice and coated with marinade. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for a few hours, or overnight. Alternatively, if short on time, leave it to marinate on the counter for no longer than an hour. Either way, make sure you flip it over once or twice during marination to ensure everything gets evenly coated.
When ready to cook, pull the tupperware out of the refrigerator and pre-heat the oven to 425F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (for easy clean up), then arrange chicken on the pan skin side up. Add the sweet potato wedges to the pan and throw into the oven for 20 minutes (let the mushrooms continue to marinate for now). Remove the pan from the oven and flip the sweet potatoes, leaving the chichi skin side up. Add the mushroom slices to the pan, nestling them in with the chichi and pots. Return to the oven for 15 minutes. Discard the bag of used marinate and wash the tupperware thoroughly (did I mention raw chichi makes me paranoid?). After 15 min, remove the pan from the oven and check things out. Turn the mushrooms and sweet potatoes. Assess how things are looking: if the pots are getting too crispy throw some foil over the top to slow them down a bit. If the chichi skin needs crisping up, bump up the heat in the oven a bit. Toss the pan back in the oven for 10 more minutes. Remove the pan from the oven one last time (check the temp on your chicken just to be safe-- it needs to be above 165F). Arrange the chichi and veggies on a platter, top with extra thyme leaves and sesame seeds, and serve with lemon wedges.