Monday, January 21, 2008

Dumb chicken

Sometimes when I want something good to eat but I don't want to spend any time cooking it, I make dumb chicken.

Get a chicken, about 4 pounds. Take out all the guts. If you weren't making dumb chicken, you would take the kidney and neck and heart and liver and boil 'em with some other shit and make chicken stock for later or gravy or soup or something. And even though you feel bad about not using all those gizzards that the poor pioneer women used to prize for their nutritious content when they were starving in the terrible errible freezing winter wind, you're tired as hell and you can't deal with a chicken kidney.

What sort of candy-ass Stepford wife can't deal with a goddamn chicken kidney?

So go on and get a plastic zipper bag and put those guts in there and throw 'em in the freezer. You'll be glad you did next time you're making stock.

Rinse the goddamn dumb chicken and dry it off. Set it aside.

Get a few potatoes, it's okay if they're a little old and mushy. What am I? Miss Goddamn America? Peel those or maybe you can get a goat to peel them for you, assuming your goat has been thusly trained and believe me I know--that's a tall order. Get some carrots too and peel those unless you're using up some lame-ass pre-peeled "baby" carrots leftover from what you packed in the your goat's lunch all week.

If you're dealing with big-ass potatoes and carrots, cut that stuff up into what I'd call 2 1/2 inch pieces. I'm too damn tired to go explaining how you adapt a 2 1/2 inch measurement to a potato or a carrot, so figure it out. Don't worry if you eff it up. It's called dumb chicken for a reason.

Peel an onion. Cut it in half if it's a big or quarters if it's a really huge mother. Try to keep that little button of flesh* intact at the bottom of the onion and that way, the onion will stay nice instead of falling into pieces, but this is dumb chicken and it won't matter much if if does.

Get a small roaster or casserole and schlep some olive oil in there. Plop the potatoes and carrots and onion in the bottom and shake some Lawry's seasoned salt on there or regular salt or salt and your own herb concoction if you think your Wofgang Puck** for chrissake. Drizzle some oil on top of those.

Looking at my pix here, I see I had all the veggies done before I even opened up the chicken. Who cares? It's dumb chicken.

Shake the seasoned salt inside the chicken and all around the outside. Yeah, you could have stuffed the dumb chicken, but that sounds like cooking, which is why you're making dumb chicken to begin with.

Oh yeah, put about a half cup of water in the pan.

Plop that miserable bird on top of the veggies and put the whole operation in the oven, uncovered, at 450 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. I know that's not what the plastic shrink wrap on the chicken said, just do it anyway.

According to my pic down there, looks like I tied the chicken's legs together. Must have had some energy boost when I was getting near the finish line. Or maybe I didn't like the way the legs were flopping around or felt guilty about not stuffing the mother.


That's my problem. You don't have to tie your chicken legs so don't worry about it.

This dumb chicken is pretty good, particularly with an easy-drinking chardonnay. Add a salad and a chunk of bread and your goat and baby goat will love it.

*I know what this reminds you of. But don't start thinking about that or you know what will happen and then dinner'll be 15 minutes late, 20 if you take your goat along.

**Or a Retired Army Guy


abngourmet said...

Nice. I don't think of myself as Wolfgang Puck, though. I don't have the accent, though I can speak some German.

I make something I call a "Rustic Chicken." Maybe I should call it a Dumb Rustic Chicken in homage to the original Dumb Chicken, I don't know ...

Anyway, the technique is similar, but with southwestern flavors. Take a whole 3-4 pound chicken and remove the backbone (save for stock). Place chicken down on a cutting board and press down on breastbone until chicken lies flat (you could alternately remove both the wish and keel bones if you want; it's optional). Rinse chicken and pat dry. Rub chicken all over with vegetable, olive, or another oil of your choice (I use regular olive oil). Sprinkle several tablespoons of both cinnamon and chili powder onto skin. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a 3-4 quart saute pan (one with straight sides if you've got one; if not a large, 12" or bigger frying pan will do), place a few handfuls of tortilla chips (unsalted are best), a few dried chiles, several cloves of garlic 2-3 tomatoes roughly chopped, 1 large onion roughly chopped, 2-4 jalapenos roughly chopped (you can remove the seeds and ribs from the chiles if you don't want the accompanying sauce very spicy), and finally some pumpkin seeds (optional). Place chicken on top of this, and place in a preheated 375 degree oven. Roast until skin is crisp and a dark mahogany brown, and the thickest part of the thigh registers 175 degrees F.

Remove chicken from saute pan, place on a plate or platter, and allow it to rest for about 15-20 minutes. Loosely tent it with foil while doing so.

Meanwhile, add about a quart or so of chicken stock (you can use water if you don't have good chicken stock) to the saute pan containing the tortilla chip mixture. Scrape up the bits on the bottom of the pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove mixture from heat, and puree in a blender or food processor (if you're like Erin, you own a vintage Vita-Mix; if you're like me, you own a newer Vita-Mix 5000 purchased at the Fort Belvoir, VA Post Exchange in 2002 - I wish I had Erin's, though). Season sauce with salt and pepper, and thin it if necessary with water or more stock to nappe consistency. Put in a bowl or gravy boat and set aside.

Cut up chicken into eight pieces. Serve with reserved sauce. I often serve this over grits to which I've added some cheddar cheese.

So there you have it, the Dumb Rustic Chicken, from the Not Wolfgang Puck.

The Retired Army Guy

Erin O'Brien said...

Good christawmighty!

"remove the backbone?"

How the eff do you do that?

Anonymous said...

A spineless chicken?

Amy L. Hanna said...

Erin cleans yet another one of those celebrity chef's "clucks".
With Authority!

Norm said...

Get'em from Gary Larson's Boneless Chicken Ranch!

abngourmet said...

To remove the backbone:

Place chicken breast side down on cutting board. Take scissors, and cut along either side of the backbone, from the tail to the neck cavity. Repeat on other side. Remove backbone, and save for stock making. You can also use a boning knife, but scissors are faster. You don't need fancy poultry shears, either - a sharp pair of household scissors will do. I have some Henckels scissors I've used for years, and they cost me about 15 bucks or so. Worth every penny.

abngourmet said...

I forgot to mention you can also add some mushrooms to the tortilla chip "base." Sometimes I use them other times I don't. Portobellos are nice, but you can use just about anything you'd like - shiitakes, maitakes, creminis, button, etc., or a combination thereof.

ajooja said...

Dumb chicken rocks! Making me a hungry fucker.

Doug said...

I do it much the same, but I brine the chicken (yes, yes, I know, you can't be bothered) and I baste it with olive oil and butter. No water with the vegies, since the basting oil coats them nicely and the chicken gives up some juice during the cooking process. If you like portabella mushrooms, these are a good edition. OH! And the most important thing! One of these days, try putting a bunch of gizzards in with your vegies. If you cook the chicken for the full hour, the gizzards should be nice and tender by then. Yummy gizzards.

Libby Spencer said...

Jeez Louise, that still sounds a lot of work to me. My idea of dumb chicken is going through the drive through at KFC.

Looks good though.

glittergirl said...

ok lady, i'm attempting this recipe tonight. my beer can chicken is on hold since our grill is dead. i've never roasted anything before!!!

your turkey soup recipe kicked ass, so i'm hoping this one follows suit.