Junior League of Durham and Orange County member Anna Thompson contributed more than one stunningly delicious recipe to the Taste of Tobacco Road Cookbook. Below, she discusses a no-fuss, hearty meal, and where her love of cooking started.
Anna Thompson’s Skillet Rosemary Chicken recipe can be found on page 143 of the Taste of Tobacco Road Cookbook.
- Where did your love of cooking come from?
Anna: My brother and I grew up helping out our Mom in the kitchen. We were raised under the philosophy of the “Little Red Hen” story – meaning, if you planned on eating, you had to help out. As little kids, this meant setting the table. As we grew older, it built up to “salad duty” and vegetable prepping and then eventually I was cooking meals all on my own. I have also been religiously watching the Food Network since probably middle school, so I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks through watching people like Ina Garten. To this day, I’m still an avid fan of the Food Network – my favorite show right now is The Kitchen.
Who taught you the most about cooking and baking?
Anna: Definitely my mom. While growing up, I was always in the kitchen helping her. I have a huge sweet tooth, so my favorite thing to do was bake. There’s actually a video of 2-year-old me icing a cake (and sneaking a taste of the icing)!
High School added to my skills as well. In a cooking class there I learned a lot of essential skills– how to break down a whole chicken, and how to make pasta and biscuits from scratch.
Do you have any tips for folks making the Skillet Rosemary Chicken recipe? Something people should be careful to do (or not to do) when cooking this?
Anna: You definitely want to make sure your chicken breasts are thin. I usually cut mine in half length-wise or you can also pound them out. If they are too thick, they may need to stay in the oven longer. I highly recommend a meat thermometer to make sure your chicken is cooked all the way through!
Have you ever modified this recipe? Any ingredient substitutions or twists?
Anna: I’ve definitely subbed the fresh rosemary for other herbs in the past. Thyme works well or I’ve also used dried herbs or the herbs in a tube that you can find in some grocery stores. You can also use garlic powder in a pinch if you don’t have fresh. To save time, I’ve also sometimes skipped the pre-boiling of the potatoes. If you cut them up small enough (maybe about a 1in dice), they’ll cook through in the time they are in the oven. I’ve also added other vegetables to the mix like onions and carrots.
Any other thoughts?
Anna: Invest in a cast-iron pan! They are fantastic – and inexpensive. As with this recipe, they are great for cooking something on the stovetop first and then transferring straight to the oven – one pot clean up. And speaking of clean up, they are super low maintenance. All you have to do is rinse them with very hot water and scrub them with some coarse salt. The more you cook with it, the more the pan gets seasoned and the better your food tastes! You shouldn’t ever use dish soap on them since they are porous and can absorb the soap flavor.