Don Hamberger cooks food for events at Christ’s Reformed United Church of Christ in downtown Hagerstown. Hamberger said he is a self-taught cook.
“Mainly because if I wanted to eat, I had to cook,” he said. “My mother and father both worked.”
He doesn’t follow recipes to the letter. Actually, he said, he thinks of a recipe as more of a guideline than strict instructions.
“I usually take a recipe and do it to my own liking. I add flavors that I like,” he said. “I go to the refrigerator, I see what I have. I’ll put some of this in and leave some of that out.”
Hamberger said he came across this recipe for chicken pilaf about 20 years ago. He couldn’t remember where it came from, but he liked it for its old-fashioned quality, and its peppery flavor.
“I like food with a little heat in it. Most of the time I use smoky paprika,” he said.
— Chris Copley, Lifestyle assistant editor
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper
4 whole chicken breasts, filleted, or boneless chicken breasts (see cook’s note)
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups boiling water
2 cubes chicken-flavored bouillon cubes (see cook’s note)
1 medium onion, diced
4 medium carrots, diced
1 cup uncooked rice
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Curly parsley, for garnish
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine flour, paprika, salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour mixture.
Melt butter in heavy, lidded, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add chicken, and brown on both sides.
Remove chicken from skillet and set aside. Reserve drippings in skillet.
In bowl, combine boiling water and chicken bouillon and stir until dissolved.
Saute carrots and onions in reserved drippings over medium heat until tender. Add butter if needed.
Add rice and saute over low heat until rice is lightly browned.
Add bouillon mixture and thyme, and stir well.
Arrange chicken breast of top of mixture in baking dish, cover and bake for one hour.
Garnish with curly parsley and serve.
Cook’s notes: Use boneless, skinless, chicken thighs instead of breasts. Use chicken stock instead of chicken bouillon cubes.
— Courtesy of Don Hamberger of Hagerstown who attends Christ’s Reformed United Church of Christ, the church next to the REACH building in downtown Hagertown. For more about the church, call 301-733-4144.