When I got home Sunday afternoon from a weekend getaway with a bunch of singers and musicians I found my mother putting polyurethane on the kitchen cabinets. Oh dear. I do not like to be around chemicals of any description, particularly in food environments (What my mother does is up to her, and pretty much always has been). I knew she planned to work on the cabinets while I was away: what I didn’t know was what we could possibly eat for dinner since I wasn’t going to spend any time I didn’t have to in the kitchen.

Fortunately, Mom reminded me, she had put some chicken in a marinade on Friday morning. We could have that with baked potatoes and a quick spinach salad. I nuked a couple of red potatoes in the microwave for four minutes and then set them and a pan of chicken in a 325 degree oven. Forty-five minutes later dinner was ready and I was only in the kitchen for about ten minutes.

Painting of main ingredients for chicken marinade.

Fleeing Chicken. 8″ x 8″ gouache and watercolor pencil. Sharyn Dimmick

Mom has made this marinade since I was a child. It has just five ingredients: soy sauce, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, canned crushed pineapple and a little vegetable oil. Because it uses canned, bottled, dried and frozen ingredients you can make this any time of the year. Warning: Even if you live in the tropics, please do not attempt to make this marinade with fresh pineapple. Why? Because the enzymes in fresh pineapple will eat into the meat protein — if you leave it in a few hours the meat will look shrunken and chewed. If you leave it in overnight your chicken will turn into an unsightly mush. How do I know this? Because I used fresh pineapple once and only once in this recipe.

Nowadays we use skinless chicken — either it comes that way from the store or we skin it ourselves — but in my youth we used to leave the skin on. You can prepare it either way. This time we used boneless, skinless chicken breasts. but we have made it with thighs, drumsticks, bone-in half breasts. We like to leave the chicken in the marinade for three days so that the meat absorbs plenty of moisture and flavor. You can cook it after a day or two if you want.

If you can get fresh chicken, it will taste better and have a softer texture than chicken that has been frozen, but frozen chicken will work fine as long as it has a chance to thaw and absorb marinade.

When we make this, we open a 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple. We use half of it (10 ounces) for the marinade and freeze the other half to use in a future batch. Mom says it’s important to taste the pineapple for sweetness — if it isn’t sweet, she recommends adding a little brown sugar. Place the pineapple in a stainless steel, glass or ceramic bowl. Add 1/4 cup soy sauce  (I like tamari; Madge uses regular soy). You can use lite or low-sodium soy if you need to. Add crushed or minced fresh garlic — we used six small cloves in the last batch — but you can pretty much add garlic to taste. Ditto with ginger: we keep ginger root in the freezer and either grate it with a microplane or slice it into coins — we probably used about 1 Tbsp. Add 2-3 Tbsp neutral-tasting vegetable oil — I like peanut oil with Asian flavors. Mom uses corn oil. You can skimp on oil if you want to — the oil helps skinless cuts brown and keeps the chicken from sticking to the pan when you cook it. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the chicken for at least eight hours and up to three days. If you think of it, turn the chicken a few times. Cook chicken in a preheated 325 oven for forty-five minutes or until done. We cook ours on foil on a broiler pan.

One batch of marinade is enough for about two pounds of chicken. If you need to double it, use the whole can of pineapple and double each of the other ingredients. You can also use this to marinate tofu. I would recommend pressing the liquid out of the tofu first before putting it in the marinade.

Once you have cooked this flavorful chicken (or tofu) it is delicious hot or cold. It can be sliced into salads or used in sandwiches. You could even use it in a cold noodle salad with peanut dressing.

Versatile Blogger Award: I would like to mention that three bloggers have kindly nominated The Kale Chronicles for the Versatile Blog Award. To learn more about the award and the women who have awarded it to me, please go visit them at eatinglocalinthelou.blogspot.com/ , gobakeyourself.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/a-monstrous-post/and susartandfood.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/versatile-blogger-award/. Elizabeth at Eating Local in the Lou shares my passion for eating local, seasonal foods and Susie tells wonderful stories before she presents each recipe.It is always a thrill to receive a blogging award and I thank these ladies kindly for reading The Kale Chronicles and for thinking of me. Because I previously received this award, here is a link to the award post where you may read seven things about me.