Peanut Butter and Purple Onions

Sounds crazy until you try it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


I don't have a general phobia about chicken, mind you. I have emerged victorious from numerous engagements with the bird. And when I was cooking meat regularly, chicken was easily the most frequent choice.

But I'd never roasted one. Never even considered it; it's not a dish that comes naturally to mind for me. Mom's chicken offerings were almost universally in the chopped or shredded categories -- burritos, pies, and the like. When Dad grilled quartered chickens slathered in his famous messy sauce, they looked oversized -- kind of weird, actually.

So I'm not sure how I got fixated on the idea of roasting a whole chicken. But there it was, that tickling little idea, and there was no ignoring it. Even though I really had no idea how to go about it and was reasonably terrified. Ah well. So what else is new?

Monday night found me eyeing a plump bird tucked decorously onto a makeshift rack, stuffed with a lemon half and fresh thyme sprigs, and smeared with butter (I was taking no chances. Lowfat could come later). It certainly looked like it would behave itself, and after about an hour, it emerged from the oven bronzed and gorgeous and somehow smug.

I really should have taken a picture then.

Because I then realized I needed to carve this thing. Which not only had I never done, I had never even seen done. There is a clear rule in my parents' house at Thanksgiving, the only time a whole bird graces the table -- Dad carves the turkey, Devorit assists, and Mom and I...go do something else. I have no idea how this rule came into being, and Devorit probably has something to say about it, but it is ironclad. Thus: total ignorance about how to carve.

So I grabbed The Joy of Cooking, which has helped me through many a blank spot, but -- I couldn't find carving instructions. I assume they're in there, somewhere, but I couldn't locate them in the heat of the moment. So I had to go to Lifeline #2:

I actually don't think I've made anything out of this book, but I have to have it with me. Mom's copy is so tattered and stained that it's probably some kind of health hazard, and for me, it's a kitchen talisman of goodwill. And it had carving instructions! With pictures!

...and yet. Oh, and yet. I take (small) consolation in the fact that I was hindered by utensil choice -- I only have one knife here larger than a paring knife, and even that one was really too small for the job. Carving fork? Hah. I didn't even own one in California. So, a few points for inadequate implements of destruction. Or perhaps I'm being too hasty. For indeed, destruction did commence, and how. Most of the time, I just could not get that bird to hold still, and when I did manage to pin it, my slices were...let's be honest. "Hacks" would be a generous description.

In the end, as long as I didn't contemplate the visual aesthetics, the chicken was a success -- tender, savory, and subtly infused with lemon and thyme. Dimples didn't even bat an eye when I set a platter of mangled chicken bits on the table. Wise man.


  • At 6:43 PM, Blogger Devorit said…

    I think the carving role rule really came into being because I was the one standing closest one year, or I volunteered to help at the INopportune moment, and there we were. And now there is a System. And you know how the father is about Creating Systems. I know where the papertowel dam goes. I know the proper implementation of lids for serving containers while carving is in progress. And now? Really? It's become habit, and I enjoy it -- there are bonuses: I get tender turkey tidbits right off the bone ;)

  • At 6:59 PM, Blogger BNA said…

    better you than me, girl. I have no complaints. I get first crack at the olive dish.

  • At 7:43 AM, Blogger kitchenmage said…

    You have the critical thing -- it tasted good. You know, if you roast a bird every week or two for the winter, you'll emerge in spring with superb carving abilities.

  • At 10:44 AM, Blogger BNA said…

    I like that idea, kitchenmage! I'm planning my next assault already.


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