This week marks 31 years since John Lennon’s death. To honour the artist that has made more significant impact to my life than any other, I’ve made a feast fit for a Beatle: Cornflake Crusted Chicken (a.k.a. Lennon Chicken) with a Mean Mr. Mustard Glaze and side of Octopus Garden Salad with Tangerine Trees and Marmalade Dressing. I recommend serving to a White Album soundtrack, with a spot of tea.
On December 8th, 1980 John Lennon had a visit from Rolling Stone reporters and the brilliant Annie Lebowitz in his New York apartment, at The Dakota Hotel. There she shot the iconic portrait of a naked John wrapped around Yoko Ono. They really didn’t want Yoko in the picture but he insisted his lady be featured or they get nothing. From there, John conducted a few phone interviews and then off to the studio to work on one of Yoko’s tracks for their upcoming album. Before getting in his limousine, he signed a copy of Double Fantasy for a 25-year-old security guard from Hawaii named Mark David Chapmen, waiting in the crowd of fans outside of the hotel. Several hours later John and Yoko returned home, apparently early so he could say “Goodnight” to his 5 year-old son, Sean. Ono walked ahead of John and into the reception area. Mark David Chapman stepped out of the shadows of the walk-way, where he’d been waiting for hours, took aim directly at the center of Lennon’s back and fired five shots from his revolver. John Lennon was pronounced dead at 11:15pm at Roosevelt Hospital, NY.
1 year later I was born. This is going to sound insane to those much more sound-minded than my family is but my father, a Beatles fanatic and committed John Lennon follower, wanted there to be some mystical re-incarnation occurrence by my birth happening exactly a year later. The ol’ man influenced my development every step of the way with Beatles lyrics and music, and John Lennon became something like an honoured grandparent. By my 3rd birthday I had my very own mini-guitar and microphone, I even had a Smurf drum kit. By 5, Dad had to come to terms with the reality that I had no real natural talent. The dream was over but his efforts had not been wasted, He had personally molded a little Beatles fanatic replica of himself. To this day, I continue to love the music and believe in Lennon’s message of peace, love and harmony, and now I get to teach my own children what it is to be a Beatles fan.
The Beatles have been one of the only consistent loves throughout my entire life. John Lennon has been a great role model to grow up with; his lyrics, his music, his writing, his character have all greatly influenced my own hopes and desires. To honour the memory of such an important person, I like to take some time every December 8th and do something to commemorate the life and times of Mr. Lennon. This year, I’ve created a John Lennon inspired family dinner from the pool of random Lennon facts swimming in my head and his very own lyrics.
It is rumored that corn flake cereal was the man’s favourite comfort food. He credited a Kellog’s commercial for inspiring “Good Morning, Good Morning” and actually sings about “sitting on a corn flake” in “I Am The Walrus”. George and Paul became advocates for vegetarianism but I’m going to assume John was a poultry-lover, at least a fan of “Cold Turkey”. I cut the boneless, skinless chicken breasts into strips, dipped each in sour cream and rolled them in crushed cornflakes. The melted butter and salt and pepper add to the simple, delicious flavour of the best homemade breaded chicken you’ve ever had.
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (preferably free-range & local)
- 1 cup sour cream (a small tub)
- 2 cups crushed cornflakes cereal (I used Nature Path’s Corn Flakes. Going to assume that if John were still with us, he’d be eating organic, gluten-free corn flakes.)
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- salt, to taste
- a dash of “Sgt. Pepper”
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175° C).
- Rinse and trim the chicken breasts. Pat dry. Generously coat both sides of each breast with sour cream. Put crushed cornflake crumbs in a shallow plate or bowl and season to taste (I use onion salt and garlic salt). Dip the sour cream coated chicken in the seasoned cornflake crumbs.
- Place coated chicken in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Drizzle with melted butter/margarine and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
Mean Mr. Mustard Glaze/Dipping Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp (local) honey
- Spritz of fresh lemon
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, and lemon juice. Store covered in the refrigerator, if not using immediately.
Octopus Garden Salad
with tangerine trees and marmalade dressing
- 4 to 5 cups baby spinach, washed and dry
- 1/2 a small red onion, chopped
- 1 Tbsp orange marmalade
- juice of 1 lemon
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (2Tbsp for dressing, 1 Tbsp for cooking seafood)
- 8 to 12 white shrimp, cleaned and cooked
- 1 large calamari squid, cleaned, cut and cooked (how to prepare below)
- 2 tangerines, peeled
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- salt and Sgt. Pepper to taste
- Lightly toss the tangerine slices, spinach and red onion and arrange them on each plate or a large platter.
- Whisk together the marmalade, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Cook your seafood in garlic and remaining olive oil. Remove from heat and let cool. Top spinach mix with seafood. Note: Calamari is much more tender when warm, warm seafood will wilt the spinach but if you toss quickly it’s still a tasty salad with great texture.
- Drizzle the marmalade dressing over the salad and season with salt and pepper.
Preparing your calamari:
If calamari just isn’t for you, feel free to make a Strawberry Fields of Green Salad Nothing beats a helping of baby spinach, poppy seed dressing, toasted sliced almonds and strawberries.
- Cleaning the squid that you buy from the market or grocer is easy. Reach your hand inside and pull out the tentacles. With a firm hold of the body, peel off the side fins. You can eat these too but I’m not prepared to today.
- At the top of the body, there may be a clear piece of cartilage, pull it out and discard.
- Under cold running water, wash the tube carefully, inside and out, to get rid of any sand or other remaining tissues.
- Slicing across the tube, cut 1/4″ rings and place them directly in your preheated pan with olive oil.
- Squid must be cooked either a very short time or a very long time. Anything in between turns it into rubber. Two minutes over high heat is plenty. Beyond that will require at least 30 minutes to an hour to re-tenderize it.
Enjoy your dinner. Go ahead, indulge yourself in some “Honey Pie “or a “Savoy Truffle” for dessert. xo
R.I.P. John Lennon 1940 to 1980