Sunday, January 9, 2011

Where There's Smoke, There's Chicken...

Over the post Christmas break, our family rarely consumed a meal that did not come from a concession stand or a bag. We had been attending a community basketball tournament and going to practices, so a well balanced meal routinely meant it included chips and a drink.

We attended so many games that our children became referees, below. Just kidding, but they did get to be referee ASSISTANTS, and everyone knows that is how you get to the top.

They look mean, right?

We had big plans to attend a rodeo rough stock event for New Year's Eve, so yet another meal was going to be eaten on our laps in bleachers. Ugh. I eyed the whole chicken that was languishing in the refrigerator and fretted that I was going to have to throw it away. It was a lovely Amish chicken my Mother in Law had brought us.

Not really, but you get the idea...
I am not sure I want to admit that we have gotten so old that we cancelled our New Year's Eve plans so we could eat dinner, but...we did.

Well, and so we could lay on the couch, America's favorite past time.

I had read a recipe for a baked chicken that was cooked for a relatively short amount of time on HIGH heat. I dragged Jebediah out of the refrigerator and got to work. He was a big fella, must have been doing a lot of barn raisings prior to his demise.

The recipe is here, and is pretty basic. Chop fresh herbs (or jarred, if it is -20 and you are NOT going to the store) and canola oil and give your chicken a relaxing massage. Then, throw him in the oven at 450 degrees. Done, and done! I felt very accomplished. Instead of the chicken languishing, I would.

A few minutes into my languishing and the chicken searing, my less-than-gourmet cookie sheet made a strange noise at that level of heat and promptly warped upward on one side. My face kind of did the same thing in annoyance. (Got a visual of this face?) I chided myself for being too cheap to use my nicer sheets, lest they be smudged by greasy chicken scorch. Although annoying, this caused no problem initially, so i went back to patting myself on the back.

There was a lot of popping and sizzling going on in the oven, and I was delighted to think of the crispy chicken skin we would unhealthily enjoy. Skinless chicken - Well, I never.

A bit of smoke was eeking out of the top burners of the stove, and I attributed it to the high heat and grease. An excellent summation in my opinion. I turned on the fan and was only slightly annoyed by the noise. However, the fan couldn't really keep up with the smoke and so the house started looking a little hazy. I blinked. The kids coughed politely. The cat sneezed. Special Agent continued at his post in the man room, unawares.

I checked on Jeb a few times and he was looking tasty, albeit a little smoke inhaled. The warp in the pan had caused his herbed canola massage oil to run into one corner where is was making a lot of racket. I cautiously pulled the pan out and emptied the sizzling grease out of the pan, holding on to Jeb for dear life. This helped immensely, or so I thought. The oil continued to collect until the haze was well, hazier. Although it was ludicrously cold, I opened the kitchen window. And the back door. And turned on the fan. Special Agent finally emerged when he sensed I might be burning the house down upstairs.

I explained the process to the whole complaining crew, including the pets who didn't really care. The dogs just wanted the chicken to eventually fall off of the pan to the floor and my family coughed and sputtered and made jokes at my expense. Sadly, this is not the first time I have created a smoke filled house during dinner prep. We were having a New Year's Eve board game tournament, so my Sweet Baboo decided she would sport some goggles during play since her eyes were burning.


NO ONE APPRECIATES ME AROUND HERE...!!   ((Cough))...((blink-blink)).

After a lot of grousing and pouring off of the oil  several times, we finally dragged Jeb out of the oven and he was a beautiful specimen.

I had to show you this side, since we had already eaten some
of the crispy skin off of the other side, giving Jeb a mangy look. Whoops! 

Except he wasn't done. All of that barn raising had created a meatier chicken than I had anticipated. The house looked like we should evacuate and even though it was frigid, I had windows and doors thrown open, fans blazing. It was freezing, and we were starving. We sighed and threw Jeb back in and tapped our feet outside the oven door. We had sampled the crispy skin, which gave us promise for a decent dinner to ring in the New Year. And hopefully not salmonella.

20 minutes later, Jeb was carved and joined the rolls, salad and whatnot. The chicken was really very good once we slowed down enough to taste it. I was so busy with the smoked filled house, i didn't even have a chance to brag about the dinner rolls I made to go with the chicken. Or the significant wine I consumed during this debacle.

We rang in the New Year (HNY to you!) with no food poisoning, Special Agent sleeping on the couch, and my eye lids at half mast. The kids were still up watching a baseball movie, and were delighted to see fireworks perfectly from our window as the New Year rang in. We were in bed by 12:10.

I will make this chicken again in the grill when the weather cooperates, and may even try to the high-heat oven method again during cold snaps. However, I am not certain how we should combat the smoke in the future and I am open to suggestions. Grace suggests adding the nose clip to the goggles.

I am showing this photo to each and every date who comes
to the house to pick her up. Oh yes, I am.
No one appreciates me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Read. Enjoyed.