I am the first to admit that cooking meat is my culinary weak spot. Touching raw meat grosses me out. The idea that it could leave all sorts of nasty germs all over my kitchen freaks me out further. Really, I could go on & on about my beef with cooking meat, but I’ll spare you.
I don’t mind eating it so much, especially at your house. That strategy does not provide me with chicken noodle soup upon demand though. Having exhausted my freezer supply of (donated) leftover chicken & Thanksgiving turkey, I realized I had a forgotten bird at the bottom of a chest freezer. I had bought it at market when I was feeling bold one day, clearly.
I have roasted a chicken exactly once in my life. Pat had helped our friends at Open Gate Farm process their chickens one Saturday, which paid in chicken. He brought home one freshly butchered chicken which I proceeded to roast. I have learned that roasting your meat before you throw it into the stock pot makes for a superior broth. I figured I could roast the chicken for dinner one night, then make broth, soup, maybe even a pot pie with the remains.
Last summer during the extended move-in celebration*, Kitchen Intern brought a bird down & popped it in my oven one evening. It was quite delish & she made it look so easy. I gathered courage from that & called her for advice. I admitted I had only done this once. She gave me her easy, breezy directions and off I went. How hard could this be?
I followed her directions – salting the interior, stuffing it with garlic (and half a lemon just for kicks since I had no fresh herbs due to the snow on my garden), coating it with olive oil & sticking it in the oven. Not wanting to trust my ‘intuition’ on this one, I looked up the proper temperature at upon a chicken is considered ‘done’ while pulling out my trusty kitchen thermometer that mostly gets used making buttercream frosting.
After the correct amount of time recommended to me by KI, the chicken smelled divine. The skin looked crispy & golden. I checked the temperature, but noticed my thermometer was behaving sort of weirdly – it kept alternating between Fahrenheit & Celcius, but was definitely not registering the proper temp. I chalked it up to a dying battery and decided the chicken was probably done anyway. I pulled it out of the oven & proceeded to finish the rest of dinner – mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce (per Edie’s request) and salad. I had everything ready to go & began to carve the chicken. Two cuts in, I realized the bird was indeed not done. It was a scene straight out of my childhood, one I had purposely avoided by NOT cooking chicken. Yes, I grew up realizing the chicken I was supposed to eat for dinner was not fully cooked upon biting into it. Yes, it’s gross and it supposedly can make you sick. I am here to tell you it can also make you stronger with an aversion to chicken.
Apparently the chicken, despite spending three days in the fridge defrosting, was not entirely thawed when it went into the oven. Not only was I incapable of properly roasting a chicken, I can’t even defrost it properly. Sigh.
This is why I stick to things I know. Bread, chocolate cake, pickles. Undercooked tofu never made anyone sick.
Eventually, the damn thing was done. We ate it. The people in this house that like to eat meat were quite pleased that I served a meal based on meat. It was a success. The next day, I popped that carcass into my stockpot with some onion, celery, carrots & other yummy flavor enhancing goodness & I turned it into stock. I picked through the bits & two days later finally got my chicken noodle soup.
*There was a good week (maybe more) last summer where Kitchen Intern & husband, having recently moved into the ‘hood, were child free which happened to coincide with Edie being away at camp. There were a few extended happy hours in which we toasted our fortune at having fabulous new neighbors while being gloriously child free.