To cook or not to cook? That’s often the question. Eat in or eat out? Although I love to cook, there’s still some excitement in going out to eat, a simple joy in getting out of the house and into a different environment where I can be served and pampered. So while my breath is bated and my appetite prepares to be whet, it appears Vineyard Haven may be home to at least two new restaurants later this new year.

Swirling in and around town hall are plans to turn the old Bowl & Board property on Main Street into an eatery with 130 seats, including outdoor patio service in the summer. Across the way over on Spring street there’s a plan for a takeout food spot behind the Beach House in what’s been a pop-up storefront. Since Vineyard Haven now has Italian and Asian cuisine covered, here’s hoping for new tastes on the horizon.

As a nation, our taste buds have definitely matured over the past generation. When I was growing up, dining out meant someone else’s décor, linen tablecloths and napkins, and a higher tab than eating at home. But that’s where any similarity to today ends. Back then, menus and imaginations were limited. Restaurants offered not much more than what could be found in many family kitchens. American cuisine came basically from Fannie Farmer, Betty Crocker, Joy of Cooking and the Settlement cookbooks. As for foreign, there was hardly anything more adventurous than American preconceptions of French, Italian, Spanish and Chinese.

What’s acceptable restaurant fare today would have been seen as avant garde theatre back then, when salt and pepper dominated the stage, and most spices and herbs lingered in the wings.

Little wonder when it came to food, my family did not come equipped with sophisticated palates. They dined out to break the monotony and then dined in to stop the boredom. And, of course, save money. My childless aunt and uncle consumed many meals with us. He’d eat everything while she complained about everything. It’s amazing she had any taste buds: her daily diet included 40 cigarettes and eight cups of coffee. She ate red meat until the cows ran away from home and she lived to be 89. She loved her medium rare steaks but griped that’s all she could eat in restaurants because she couldn’t get what she really wanted.

In an era where chicken breasts were considered the piece de resistance, the sine qua non of poultry, my aunt preferred thighs and drumsticks. The fact that she loved “dark” meat prompted my mother to feel protective. Her sister, my aunt, given this food choice, had tumbled into the steerage of society. What restaurant in its right mind could appease my aunt? I recall only one or two menus that served up that demoralized part of the chicken.

Just about every other culture around the world values them for their flavor (yes, from a small amount of fat) and versatility. So, as a tribute to my aunt and to her unrequited love, allow me here and now to extol the virtues of this comestible classic, slowly inching its way into the American dining scene. It’s one reason why I like to eat at home.

What really got me going was a piece that appeared five years ago in the New York Times Sunday Magazine by Sam Sifton, the food editor: Chicken With Shallots, Chef-Style. The cook in me was grabbed by the subhead: “This is how the pros do dinner for the family.”

Sifton joyously positioned this meal (prepared by chefs at home) on “the road toward the kingdom of delicious. It deserves a place in any recipe rotation that calls for elegance on the relative quick.” For the easy, inexpensive recipe, check out:

But allow me to give you my version. As someone who likes to cook, I play with my food. I adapt to my own taste buds. After serving this dish many times, I have reached my own nirvana. Keep in mind, as a dinner for four, this will cost $20 total, take 90 minutes from kitchen to table, and will be prepared in one big pan on a stovetop.

Personally I think boneless/skinless thighs are easier to eat, and it shortens cooking time. I dredge eight thighs in light flour seasoned with a couple of dashes each of paprika, dry mustard, dried dill, marjoram, garlic powder, dried chives, bay leaf, dried basil, dried tarragon and pepper. Sauté the thighs in olive oil, five minutes on a side. Take them brown from the pan. Add 3 tablespoons butter to the pan and 15 peeled, sliced shallots. Soften them for 15 minutes. Add two cups white wine, two tbsp Dijon mustard and one tbsp dried tarragon. Put thighs back in the pan. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Remove lid, reduce sauce 15 minutes. Add two cups halved cherry tomatoes. Cook five more minutes. Serve over rice, noodles or nothing.

Try it. You’ll feel like you’re in a restaurant. It looks exotic but tastes like comfort food. I’m betting you’ll like it. I know my aunt would.

Arnie Reisman and his wife, Paula Lyons, regularly appear on the weekly NPR comedy quiz show, Says You! He also writes for the Huffington Post.