A local cook's chicken recipe makes it into a book celebrating the best that the Heartland has to put on its table.
G arlic. That's what visitors smelled when Judi Walker opened the door of her house. "When you open the door, that's the first thing that hits you," she said. "... I love garlic. Can you tell?"
Walker was making her Chicken Marango, one of the recipes in the new KCPT cookbook, "This Place Called Home: A Kansas City Cookbook." Walker and two other Lawrence residents supplied recipes for the book featuring Heartland cooking.
Walker's recipe, an Italian-style chicken, smelled of tomatoes and herbs.
"I've had this recipe for so long," she said. "It's one of my favorite entertaining recipes."
Her chicken, she said, can be prepared in advance and then popped in the oven to cook before company comes. That frees her from cleaning the kitchen, cooking and trying to entertain all at once.
"Almost everyone wants the recipe," she said. "I love to entertain, but I like to entertain with a dish that I could get done ahead and get all the mess and all the cooking done."
She started cooking this chicken dish early in her marriage, while her husband was in medical school.
"None of us could afford to go out to restaurants," she said. Instead, they socialized by having other couples over for dinner. Walker found the basis for her recipe in a old cookbook. It was perfect -- chicken was affordable, yet the recipe had flair and "you could make it ahead of time."
"It was in an old cookbook my mother-in-law gave me," she said.
The finished product didn't quite resemble the original recipe, though.
"I never cook a recipe out of the cookbook," she said. "I always modify it. ... I adapted it, and I've been using it ever since."
She added more garlic and substituted chicken breasts for a whole chicken. She tinkered with the ingredients until she had just what she wanted. She omitted bread crumbs and added fresh garnishes.
"I use fresh everything when I cook," she said.
Walker said she usually serves the chicken with a fresh vegetable, a tossed salad, hard rolls and wine. It is garnished with chopped parsley and crumbled bacon.
The dish takes 30 to 45 minutes to prepare and approximately an hour to cook.
"I've never, ever thrown any of it away," Walker said.
A friend gave the recipe to the publishers of the cookbook, Walker said.
"She's had that recipe many, many times at my house," she said.
Walker discovered recipe was being printed when she received a copy of the book in the mail.
"I love this cookbook," she said "It's got recipes you don't find in every other cookbook. They're just no the run-of-the-mill recipes."
The cookbook also features two other Lawrence residents' recipes -- Kathryn Clark's Orange Cake and Janet Majure's Tuscan Bread.
"This Place Called Home" is available locally at The Bay Leaf, 725 Mass. It can be ordered by calling KCPT, (816) 756-3580 ext. 4244, sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or writing KCPT - Channel 19, 125 E. 31st, Kansas City, Mo. 64108. It costs $17.95.
-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.