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Merrill's baby Clara is finally old enough to eat solid foods. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, Merrill steps into the fray.
Today: Chicken on the bone makes great finger food!
Kids like chicken fingers. I feel pretty confident saying that. They're salty, they're crunchy, and it's acceptable to eat them with your hands.
Every week, I see parents in my neighborhood who wouldn't be caught dead at McDonald's tucking boxes of frozen organic chicken fingers into their shopping carts. My mother, who raised us almost entirely on homemade meals from scratch, made killer baked chicken fingers crusted with herbed breadcrumbs -- and my sister and I always requested them for our birthday parties.
We have yet to give Clara chicken fingers (you can be sure that when we do I'll ask my mother for her recipe), but we've found a reasonable substitute. She didn't show much interest in chicken until I did two things: braised it with tomatoes (a magic ingredient that makes all other foods more desirable), and let her eat it off the bone. Now chicken is one of her favorite foods.
These days, I make a big batch of chicken thighs braised in tomatoes and garlic every week. We put on Clara's smock/bib and give her a thigh, and she gnaws at the meat like a little terrier until the bone is scraped clean. Once she's in bed, we enjoy shallow bowls of braised chicken thighs with tomatoey garlicky juices over orzo.
8 chicken thighs on the bone, skin-on
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
20 ounces canned chopped tomatoes (I prefer tetra-pack)
1 cup chicken stock (homemade or low sodium)
2 sprigs thyme
Orzo or rice for serving
Photos by James Ransom