Thursday, January 12, 2012
Back a way long time ago when I was just a little girl, there was a grocery store across from the Lincoln Mall in Freeport. Is it where the Eagles Club is now? I can't remember, I was very small. I think it was a Logli's, maybe. Lee's? BRB, Googling.
Google is not helping! Gah. My mom reads this blog, she'll know. Anyway, there are only two things I remember about that store. They had a big ol' Brach's candy display with the honor-system box where you could put in a nickel and take a piece. When I went shopping with my grandma, she'd give me a quarter and I would get five little pieces of candy and that was awesome. The other thing I remember was the Fun Chicken.
Now the Fun Chicken was a vending machine at the front of the store, right by the exit doors. It was a big box with clear walls, and inside was a plastic hen in a nest of plastic eggs. If you put your money in, the hen would move around and cluck, and one of the plastic eggs would pop out of the machine with a toy inside. Good times. Waiting in the endless checkout lines was not so bad if you had the promise of Fun Chicken waiting. I'm sure the 2010s version of the Fun Chicken awaits us soon, whenever Robert catches on to the fact that the machines whose levers and doors he loves to manipulate actually produce something if money is put in.
Anyway, I'm only thinking of that tonight because I had to deal with whatever the opposite of a Fun Chicken is tonight. It was too bad, too, because I was really excited about the recipe I had. I've been experimenting with my new cast-iron Dutch Oven, and tonight I tried roasting a whole chicken in it, French Style. I put it on the stove and put a little olive oil in, salted and peppered my chicken, and set it in the pot to brown. I added onions, celery, garlic and bay leaf, flipped the chicken to get a little brown on the other side, then put foil over the pot, put the lid on over that, and put it in the oven on 250 to let the magic happen. Since it was a small chicken, only about 3.5 pounds, it wasn't supposed to take more than an hour or so, so I gave it 70 minutes.
When I went to take it out, it leaked red juices everywhere! Gross! I put it back in, twice, and finally had to put it on the cast iron skillet and just let it sit in the oven for ages till it would come to temp. 250 is stupidly low for cooking a chicken. The jus that was supposed to happen was nasty and oily, lacking in flavor. And when the chicken was finally done, the skin was gross and flabby and undelicious. The chicken meat was okay, but I've done far better with a simple beer can. Bummer! Anyway, my lovely chicken meal was ruined, since Robert was in bed by then (he got an alternative supper) and we'd already eaten the side dish, which was fried corn and quite tasty.
What do you do with an entire mediocre cooked chicken? In our house, that's easy. Buffalo chicken wraps are one of M's favorites, and we have lots of whole wheat tortilla shells in the house lately. The problem I've always had is that it's a pain in the butt to shred all that chicken into the proper consistency, and after wrestling with the chicken for two hours already, I was in no mood. Then genius struck! I mentioned the other day that in my organizing, I found all the parts to the food processor and put them in one place, right? Now was the perfect time to break it out. I put on the basic blade and stripped the chicken, tossing white and dark meat in there alike, leaving out the nasty skin. When it was all in there, I buzzed it in the processor for about five seconds, and voila! Shredded chicken! It was almost chicken salad consistency, actually, but that's fine with me.
I dumped the chicken into a bowl and mixed in Frank's Red Hot Sauce and ranch dressing. (If I wasn't cooking for M, I'd have added celery or lettuce, but he's not a fan.) I spread the mix onto tortillas, rolled them up, and cut them into pieces about an inch thick. Delicious and fun, and a nice way to save a disappointing dinner. I guess nobody always has good luck with new recipes, and I've done really well lately, so I was due for a stinker. But I really do want to find a nice Dutch Oven chicken recipe. I'm sure there's one out there!
Since I'm already talking about kitchens, I should mention that Robert's birthday present of a wonderful play kitchen and accessories has arrived! We assembled it yesterday and stocked it today, and man is it a hit. He loves all the things he can do, and he'll love it even more when we get all the batteries, I'm sure. 12 batteries, sheesh. It's so entertaining to watch his little brain working, and to see him do things like put a piece of lettuce and an orange in a skillet on the burner, or shove all the utensils in the microwave at once. He's a funny guy!