Friday, January 30, 2004

Playing Chicken

Mark Morford is one of my favorite columnists. The only thing I tend to find infuriating about him is his blatant fatphobia; he occasionally denies it in his e-mailed newsletter but it's there, the absolute loathing of fat people, in every column he writes about food. His latest downplays the fat-hatred a bit more than most, so I'm recommending it. It's called Tastes Like (Mutant) Chicken: The great McDonald's diet test, and why Ukrainians won't touch your buffalo wings.

When Morford wants to make the point that American agribusiness and other corporate shenanigans lacking any measure of government oversight are essentially poisoning our citizenry, he can do so quite effectively. I just wish he wouldn't keep spitting out "fat" and "obese" as though the very words were as tasteless to him as the frankenfood he's excoriating; after all, lots of thin folks put McCrap in their bodies as well. Morford's target should be unhealthy and even poisonous food, not fat people.

So anyway, I'm feeling a little guilty now about making Chicken a la Elayne tonight, but you know, six of one or a half dozen of the other... Here's how I do

Chicken a la Elayne
2 chicken breasts (or 4 half breasts) on the bone
Chopped or minced garlic
Chopped or minced ginger
BBQ Sauce
About 2 tsp soy sauce
Broiler pan, bowl and teaspoon

You'll notice I didn't give measurements for most of the 'gredients. That's on purpose. I just chop or mince the garlic and ginger until I get as much as I want to cover the breasts. Same with the barbecue sauce. Varies with taste, and all that. Basically you mince the spices and add the sauces and mix 'em all together in a small bowl. Then I peel the skin off the chicken breasts as I wash them, and place them on the broiler pan. (I like to put them breast-side-up first, but if you want to do it bone-side-up first that'd probably work just fine.) Then I whine, "Rooooobin! Could you please brush the mixture onto the chicken breasts?" 'Cause you know, he's an artist, he's good at that kind of stuff and it gets him used to cooking, which he never had to do for the 36 years that he lived with his folks. (He's already better than I am at mincing garlic; he credits judicious use of his scalpel for art tasks...) And together we've discovered that if you "brush" on the mixture with a spoon instead of a cooking brush it works much better. (As an aside, if you don't feel like getting fresh ginger use the powdered stuff, but it works better if you sprinkle it directly onto the chicken breasts instead of mixing it with the sauce and stuff; it seems to cling to the chicken nicely on its own, and the sauce mixture will stick better that way as well.)

So okay, then you put the pan into the broiler or, if you live in our apartment where you can't use the broiler on the bottom of the oven because the pan actually catches fire after a few minutes (alas, we learned the hard way), you put it in the toaster oven and set it to "broil." If using a for-really broiler that works correctly, you'll want about 15-20 minutes on each side; my suggestion is to give it 15 on the breast side, then flip the breasts to coat the underside with the sauce mixture, then do another 20 minutes on the underside because you're not going to eat the underside so it's okay if it's a little blackened. If you're using a toaster oven, particularly one where the door is a teeny bit off the hinge because a little piece broke off and you don't have the expertise to fix it or the money to buy a new one, you want to give it a half hour to 35 minutes on each side.

Yes folks, real-world cooking, I'm an expert at it. :) One more interesting aside - Robin tells me that in England there's no such thing as broiling. Imagine that.

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