You Did What To Your Chicken?

The spatchcocked chicken in action.

Long-Suffering Husband is a chicken fanatic. He could eat it every day, I think–just plain, roasted or rotisseried, with some Sal’s Sauce and bleu cheese dressing–and in fact, he gets a little crabby if his Vitamin Ch levels get depleted. So we eat a lot of chicken. I have joked that I am the Bubba Gump of chicken.

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to spatchcock a chicken. Yes, I know how naughty and/or painful that sounds, and I’m sure there are entire Internet forums devoted to it, and probably even a pride flag and a particular color of hankie to wear in one’s back pocket if one is a spatchcocker or spatchcockee. But in terms of the chicken, it’s just a fancy, old-fangled, fun-to-say synonym for “butterfly.” You remove the backbone and the keel bone, give the poor spineless chicken a hearty whack on the back, and she’s laid-out flat and ready to cook. The idea is that the bird cooks more evenly, with fully-cooked dark meat and moist breast meat (you’re giggling like a 7th grader by now, aren’t you?).

We lost a limb in the grilling process. Poor Chicky looks like he's just come home from Iraq.

Well, I’m here to tell you, spatchcocking works. The white meat was delicious, juicy and tender. The dark meat was delicious, juicy and tender. This may be among the Top Five chickens I’ve ever cooked, and I am eager to try spatchcocking a chicken to roast, with some lemon and rosemary.

If you’d like to try spatchcocking yourself, have a look at the excellent tutorial at CookThink. I rubbed my chicken with some olive oil, garlic, fresh oregano, dried rosemary and smoked paprika, but you can use any spices that set your heart afire.

A meal fit for Henry IV

We kept things simple and had a salad of our CSA lettuce with a delicious maple mustard dressing that I promise to post soon. In the meantime, some cocktail party trivia for you. Did you know that Herbert Hoover never promised “a chicken in every pot” if he became President? The slogan was used by the Republicans in their campaign materials, so it’s linked to Hoover, but he didn’t actually say it. Henry IV, however, did wish that each of his peasants would have “a chicken in his pot, every Sunday.”

JFK still did say that he was a jelly doughnut, though. That one we have on film.


Food on Sticks

Skewered food FTW.

Sometimes–just to keep myself entertained–I like to plan meals around arbitrary themes. Today was just such a time, and today’s theme was “Food On A Stick.” I marinated some shrimp in lemon, a little EVOO, and some herbs from the CSA (garlic scapes, oregano, rosemary, chives). Stuck ’em on a stick. Et voila, les crevettes delicieaux.

Thing #2 loooooves shrimp, much in the same way that a kitten I once had loved shrimp, in that she doesn’t really distinguish between where the shrimp ends and where your fingers begin. She just bites. Thing #1, not so much. So I pulled a long-lost package of L’il Smokies (and, incidentally, can I just say that I hate when people or companies write “l’il” instead of “little,” but apparently not enough to cause me to boycott L’il Smokies) out of the freezer and stuck those on sticks, too.

Who were those horrible killers who put their victims’ heads on pikes? I would’ve been a good one of those.

Mini sausages, on a stick. Does it get any better than this?

I haven’t yet mastered the art of skewering brown rice, so for a side dish I made a quick quinoa salad. Do you know from quinoa? It’s a funny little grain, which blossoms into curlicues when you cook it, and which has a good dose of protein. It’s not unlike couscous, only better for you, and lends itself well to cold salads and pilafs. It’s also lovely as a breakfast porridge, with milk and raisins and cinnamon and so on.

All in all, the dinner was a huge success. I forced the children, upon threat of not getting their Rice Dream Nutty Buddies, to eat some baby carrots along with their tiny processed meats. Long-Suffering Husband made various orgasmic noises while eating his shrimp and veg, but then again he was starving after a day of kayaking and installing our new back door.

All plated and ready to be devoured

Herb-Marinated Grilled Shrimp

1 lb. Raw shrimp, in the shell
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T lemon juice
chopped fresh herbs—oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley
minced garlic
minced scallion or shallot

Mix all ingredients except for shrimp. Add shrimp 30 minutes before grilling.

Simple Summer Quinoa Salad

2 c. quinoa
½ cucumber, peeled and diced
1 tomato, diced
1-2 scallions, diced
1/4 c. parsley
¼ cup slivered almonds
lemon juice

Rinse quinoa well in a strainer (this removes the saponin, which is a natural, bitter coating that keeps birds from eating the quinoa in its natural habitat). Cook the quinoa with 4 cups water, stirring occasionally. When the water is all absorbed, fluff with fork and cool. When cool, add to other ingredients in a large bowl. Toss. Season with salt and pepper.

Charred Meat and Swiss Chard

This is why I don't grill.

I love to entertain. In my secret Walter Mitty life, I’m a trophy wife with more money than God and a cadre of devoted and adoring friends who spend weekends at our lake home; I spend hours planning and preparing elaborate dinner parties and brunches and picnic lunches to take on the yacht. I make things like “reductions” and “coulis.” My butcher knows me by name. And of course I have a personal trainer and/or liposuctionist to help me fit into sleek Prada cocktail dresses, so I look fabulous while refilling everyone’s Prosecco (it’s the new champagne).

The reality, however, is that most of my entertaining is done in a backyard littered with brightly colored plastic toys, and the menu usually involves some form of processed meat. I do love me some Zweigle’s.

I burned the bread, too!

This weekend’s festivities were pretty impromptu; Long-Suffering Husband was out of town fetching some heirloom furniture from his folks, so I gathered a few good family friends to grill up some dogs and burgers. At the eleventh hour, I stumbled upon this delectable little number over at Sippity Sup: Chard Wrapped Grilled Mozzarella.

Unfortunately, I skimmed the recipe and missed the step in which you blanch the chard leaves, so they were a bitch to fold around the cheese. And I had no kalamatas, but I did have roasted red pepper. The end result was, as is so often the case with my cooking, not so very nice to look at, but pretty darn tasty nonetheless.

We plopped ’em atop the burned bread (or in the case of a gluten-free guest, atop a burned hamburger). They were the hit of the afternoon, not least because they weren’t charred to a cinder like the other foods. I’m excited to make them again, the proper way, and to experiment with other add-ins.

All in all, it was a good time. Much laughter, much shrieking from the children, and when it was all over (to quote an ex-roommate), my feets hurt. Both of them. Still, I’m glad that next time, I can turn the BBQ tongs over to my husband, and go back to swanning around with a bottle of Prosecco in my hand. Who knows, maybe I’ll even act like a trophy wife and share.

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