Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Great Chicken Escape

It never fails, just when I think I am The Great Chef, something always happens to put me right back in my place. Like, for instance, last night's excitement.

Last night I decided to use my old Schlemmertopf clay roasting pot and roast a chicken. I tossed in some potatoes (the package said they were "party potatoes" so they must like being together, right?), some mushrooms, the chicken resting on top of that, and then pan fried some bacon bits to toss over. While the bacon juices were still hot I insouciantly poured in some cognac and chicken stock and let them cook down for flavor and poured that over the whole lot. Some herbs of various kinds, salt and pepper and into the oven it went. Looked lovely!

After an hour of cooking delicious smells wafted thru the house. I checked on the chicken and decided to pour out the majority of the juices and cook it without the lid for the remaining time, so that the chicken and potatoes could crisp up. I would make a sauce from the drippings.

I carefully tilted the very hot clay pot containing dinner over the sauce pan to drain the liquids. It dripped directly into the pot, no misses. As I proudly noted my neatness in this sometimes fraught endeavor, my chicken chose that moment to make a run for freedom. It shot out of the pan, slid across the counter and skittered to a halt against the backsplash, spewing juices from its innards and steaming and spitting vociferously.


I managed to ignore the escaped poultry for a moment as I finished the task at hand, still not spilling any liquids, but somehow less proud of that fact as there was now a trail of chicken and wet chickeny goodness that spanned a good 5 feet. I was just glad Rich was in the other room and did not see this. If I could get that damned bird back into the pot without him noticing, I could take this secret to the grave.

Let me 'splain. There are two types of cooks in the world. The neat ones. And the not neat ones. You might guess which kind I am. And it INVARIABLY happens that, whenever I am at my most messy, covered in flour, spraying sauce or splattering juices all over the kitchen like a mad utensil wielding Frankenstein, Rich will walk into the kitchen and make a comment.

I carefully put down the clay pot, now devoid of juices, and reached for a couple of long forks with which to grab the chicken. I advanced upon it like a lion stalking a gazelle, forks at the ready. Just as I pounced on the bird, ("Ha HA!") one fork at each end of its benighted carcass, Rich opened the door and walked in. I was caught, in flagrante delicto, no hope of making it look like anything other than it was, an escaped chicken being wrestled back into its pan.

He walked in, surveyed the scene, said "I am not even going to ask" and walked out.

I wonder if that ever happened to Julia Child?

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