Precision in measurements is normally sacred to Jeremy Davis.
The accuracy of gauging even micromilligrams of substances can be crucial in his job as supervising chemist of the Orange County Water District.
But get him into his Mission Viejo kitchen and he doesn't even want to see a measuring cup, let alone worry about the level of liquid in it. Instead, he prefers to guess at amounts, using soup spoons to ladle ingredients into bowls for dishes he's preparing. Improvisation takes the place of precision.
That made it a little difficult for him to share with Guys & Galleys his no-explanation-necessary-for-the-name No-Measure Chicken.
"It's something I literally threw together one evening when we decided to have chicken and then couldn't decide what to do with it," said Davis, 35. "We enjoyed it, and I still make it, but the ingredients do change."
The dish is patterned, he said, after some foods he and his wife, Bernadette, have enjoyed in trips to Europe. "In the south of France in particular, you will see a lot of dishes using fresh tomatoes and onions."
His wife, a history teacher at Saddleback College, "does the bulk of the cooking for the family," he said, "but we share the kitchen except for Sunday breakfasts and Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners; then it's exclusively mine."
Davis began cooking at a young age (he even took a cooking class in junior high school) with the encouragement and assistance of his mother. "She was Italian," he said, "and loved to cook. Her kitchen was what I would call traditional but open-minded. She encouraged experimentation.
"So, I know and enjoy cooking Italian foods, but I also do a lot of Polish cooking because of my wife's background (she's half Polish). As a matter of fact, I've gotten so much into Polish food that it's the only thing I make for our annual Christmas potluck at the office."
Each week, Orange County Life will feature a man who enjoys cooking and a favorite recipe. Tell us about your candidate. Write to Guys & Galleys, Orange County Life, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626.
JEREMY DAVIS' NO-MEASURE CHICKEN
6 chicken breasts (boneless or bone-in)
Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
12 pearl onions
Break egg into large bowl, beat and cover with milk. Mix well. In a separate bowl, mix equal amounts of flour and bread crumbs. Place 8 to 10 pats of margarine on bottom of baking pan. Dip each chicken breast in egg-milk mixture and roll in flour-bread crumb mixture. Place each breast skin side up in pan. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes, turning once. While the chicken is baking, slice tomatoes and pearl onions, allowing 3 tomato slices and 4 halved onions per breast. Turn breasts skin side up, garnish with tomatoes and onions and dampen each with lemon juice. Crumble dill between fingers and sprinkle over each breast. Return to oven until tomatoes begin to wrinkle (about 5 minutes). Serve over a bed of rice made with chicken broth instead of water. (Serves 4 to 6.)