Fragrant baked chicken and Gouda mac

Mar. 02, 2013 @ 07:09 AM

A friend of mine with a really young son was newly divorced. She started seeing an up and coming attorney. Handsome guy. Lots of competition running after him.

She put an onion in her warm oven every time he came for a date. The smell circulated and filled the apartment with the most delicious aroma.

It reminded him of home cooked meals with all the trimmings. Several months later they married.

Aromatic cooking did the trick.

In culinary dictionaries this method is defined as any additive of food, herb, spice that enhances the flavor or aroma of another food. Certain foods like the onion above.

I had the distinct privilege of experiencing aromatic cooking one recent Friday.

Alan Jenkins, author, copywriter, editor, photographer, book publisher, (the list can go on and on) prepared a chicken dish for Fred and myself. Lucky for us, he adores our kitchen. 

Alan receives immense satisfaction from cooking. His satisfaction doubles when people like what he cooks.

“Fresh” spices can be purchased in most produce departments. You can add a world of life to your food without learning to grow them yourself,” said Alan.

Alan loves to adapt restaurant dishes to recreate in his own kitchen.

 His Gouda Mac was inspired from a visit to Poogan’s Porch in Charleston, SC. His recreated baked chicken came after a visit to Waxhaw’s Mama Lena’s Trattorie.

 I watched Alan assemble his adaptations. He gladly shares them below.

Baked Chicken

Preparation/cook time: 1 hour

Yield: 4 servings

4 chicken breasts with the bone and skin

4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

4 sprigs of fresh thyme

1/4 cup of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400  degrees. Use a broiler pan. Add water to the bottom part of the pan. I watched Alan add between 1/4 to 1/2 cup. This will stream the herbs into the chicken. Place the metal grill on top. Wash the chicken breasts and place on the grill. Under each breast, put one to two sprigs of rosemary and thyme. With a brush coat the skin of each breast with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.

While the chicken cooks the rosemary mingles with the thyme to produce flavor infused chicken.

After just 10 minutes in the oven his baked chicken had filled my house with the most delicious heavenly aroma.

The next recipe stole my heart.

“The Gouda Mac can become a meal all on its own: just add precooked, diced ham or country ham to it before placing in the oven,”said Alan.

I definitely will try that addition this week.

Delicious doesn’t begin to describe Alan’s Gouda Mac below.

Gouda Mac

1 box medium sized pasta shells

8 ounces of shredded gouda cheese

4 tablespoons of butter

1 teaspoon of paprika

1 teaspoon white pepper

2 cups of whole milk or 1 cup of  heavy cream and 1 cup of 1% milk

Set oven to broil; a low broil setting if the oven allows. To cook the pasta bring water to a boil, pour in the pasta, bring to boil again then turn down to simmer after stirring the shells. In a medium saucepan melt the butter. Once melted, slowly stir in the flour to create a blonde roux. The mixture should be yellow and pasty (about 2-4 minutes). Add milk, paprika and white pepper, stir. Once warm, slowly stir in 4-6 ounces of the Gouda until the mixture becomes thick and rich.

While the sauce cooks, drain the pasta and place in a 3 quart baking dish. Once the sauce is ready, pour it over the pasta. Sprinkle remaining Gouda on top and place in the oven for 10 minutes until the top layer browns slightly to your taste.


• Monroe resident Jeanne Howell has attended cooking schools in San Francisco, Atlanta, Charlotte and Monroe. She and a partner are working on a cooking video project. She may be reached at 704-221-1905 or