Courtship Chicken and Joe’s Special are recipes you need to try

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

I’ve been thinking a lot about my father recently. Dec. 21 isn’t just winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and summer solstice in the southern hemisphere, it is Dad’s (AKA George McClintock’s) birthday. Mom always made a big fuss about Dad’s birthday because he had stories about growing up in a big family and getting a pair of socks, one for his birthday, one for Christmas.

Born in 1917, Dad would have been 99 years old today. Dad died two weeks before I graduated from high school, so I never knew him when I was an adult. I’ve often wondered about what conversations with Dad would have been like over the years of my being an adult. I think we would have had a lot to talk about, and he would have been proud of what I’ve done with my life. We shared a love of birds, words, and the ocean. I did not share his love of golf!

We also shared a love of good food, eating it and growing it. For Dad’s birthday dinner, Mom usually made her “courtship chicken” and always blueberry cheesecake for his “birthday cake.” I’m not sure where Mom learned to make courtship chicken or blueberry cheesecake, but the family story is that Mom made them for Dad when they were “courting.” Clearly, she believed the way to his heart was through his stomach and she was successful!

And, I remember countless times when we were at a restaurant and the server would ask if we’d like dessert after our meal. Dad always asked if they had blueberry cheesecake and very few restaurants did. I do remember a few times when they did have blueberry cheesecake and Dad was thrilled.

Mom’s courtship chicken was one of several “eat-them-often” dishes that Mom made for family dinners. I haven’t made it in a long time, but I think it is time to try it out again. I remembered the Italian seasoning and marinating it in wine, but I had to email my sister, Martha, to ask her for the full recipe.

Another favorite of Dad’s was Joe’s Special — a great scrambled combo of ground meat, spinach, eggs, and parmesan cheese. Dad lived in San Francisco and ate often at Original Joe’s. I love Joe’s Special and regularly make it for myself. I’ve shared it in this column before and a number of readers have told me how much they enjoy it. Here’s that recipe again for those who didn’t save it from previous columns.

What were your family’s favorite meals when you were growing up? Were there special birthday desserts different from the more common birthday cake?

This week we’re eating ...

Mom’s Courtship Chicken

(As remembered by Mary McClintock, Conway and Martha McClintock, Melbourne, Australia)

Marinate chicken legs or thighs and drumsticks in refrigerator overnight in white wine. Remove from marinade and drain chicken. Put in oven-proof roasting pan or casserole (Mom used a Pyrex glass lasagna dish). Sprinkle on onion powder, garlic powder, crushed Italian seasoning (or dried basil, marjoram, rosemary, oregano, and thyme), and paprika. Bake in 350 degree oven (also can be cooked on a grill) until done. It depends on size of pieces, but it is done when chicken can be poked with a fork and the juice runs clear.

Joe’s Special

By Mary McClintock (learned from her mother, Betsy, who learned it from Original Joe’s Restaurant in San Francisco, Calif.)

Saute chopped onion in oil in cast iron frying pan until translucent. Add ground beef (or ground turkey). Cook meat until browned, breaking up with a spoon. Drain off any excess fat. Add chopped fresh spinach and cook for a minute or so until limp. Add 3 large eggs, lightly beaten with basil and thyme. Stir and cook until eggs are set. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Local food advocate and
community organizer Mary
McClintock lives in Conway
and works as a freelance writer,
editor, and book indexer. Send
column suggestions and recipes
to mmcclinto@yahoo.com.