No idea why…

This morning I took the back way to work, through the Vienna Woods.  In one village, I had to stop my car and wait while a group of chickens crossed the road.

It’s going to be one of those days, I thought.

Mig’s Blackened Rorshach Chicken

(Note to self: prior to cooking experiments, make sure at least one camera in the house is charged)

I told Brian I was going to barbecue for Mother’s Day and he suggested whole chicken with a Greek yogurt/lemon marinade. He suggested deboning the chicken which was interesting, although very simple after watching the instructional Jacques Pepin video.

Note: this dish required no substitution for a change.

Note 2: actually, it did. I substituted an ancient Japanese paring knife we got at a dime store in Tokyo once for a new chicken-deboning-knife I failed to buy last Friday as planned because I had to work on my lunch break. The paring knife worked well, it looks roughly like a deboning knife anyhow, and being of rather soft steel it sharpens up easily.

Instructions: Buy ingredients: 1 organic chicken, enough Greek yogurt (or regular plain yogurt). A lemon. Garlic. Make marinade according to the recipe, more or less, with all the other spices. The paprika, for example, works really nicely. I also added some herbs from the garden.

Bone chicken according to the video. heads up: if you watch the video while cooking, figure out a way to pause and unpause it without getting raw chicken on your keyboard. You will feel the urge to talk in a Hannibal Lector voice while deboning the chicken, and CSI jokes will go through your head, and you will wonder if this is what the turkeys Boeing shoots at its planes from cannons to test the windshields end up looking like. This will pass.

Your chicken is boned in no time! That wasn’t so bad! Less than a minute, according to Jacques Pepin, maybe a little longer for people like me. Maybe quite a bit longer, in fact, although it’s not as bad as I imagined, because I wisely locked the cats (AKA my four best friends, when I’m deboning chicken) out of the kitchen.

Marinate the chicken overnight. I covered it in the marinade sauce, folded it up like a shirt, and packed it into a tupperware container and refrigerated it.

Do something useful with the carcass. I failed to do this, and felt bad about it afterwards.

I could have given it to the cats to fight over in the yard but what would the neighbors say?

They would say, What are you, an extra from the Hunger Games?


Grill your chicken the following day. I started at 9.30 in the morning, lighting the coals etc.  because there was a lot of stuff to grill: various vegetables, mushrooms, pineapple (slices with vanilla sugar sprinkled over them), sausages because this is Austria, and the chicken, and I wanted to be done in time.

Everything was done in time. Around 11.30, in fact, everything was warming in the oven waiting for the guests (my wife’s parents).

Here is how the chicken went: I grill stuff in aluminum grilling uh tray things. Put the chicken spread out, like an unfolded shirt a chicken skeleton had just shed because it was covered in yogurt marinade, in the largest, round aluminum tray. It sizzled away. Skin-side down for starters. No idea if this was a good idea or if it matters. Turned it after a while when the first side looked a little brown. In all, it cooked for over an hour.

I stood there most of the time and watched it cook, because I was afraid a cat would steal it if I went into the house. When you stare at a flat chicken long enough, it begins to look like a Rorshach blot, and you find yourself saying, in Sigmund Freud’s voice, “So, Mr. Living, tell me what you see in this chicken?”

And you give him the answer, in your own voice, telling him something you think will make you sound sane.

It takes the leg meat longer to cook than the rest, so I ended up removing the legs and letting them cook longer. The chicken was getting fairly dark. Like, black in places. But that always happens when I barbecue. I folded up the chicken and put it in the oven in the kitchen to stay warm. Then I went back out to guard the drumsticks. Of course they were engulfed in flames when I got back out, because all the marinade and oil/fat that had collected beneath the chicken in the tray was suddenly exposed to air when I removed the chicken and ignited as soon as I turned my back.

The flames were about 3′ high. I managed to rescue the drumsticks somewhat.

Carved up the chicken and it looked fine. It was much-praised by the guests. Two people remarked how moist the chicken was. The marinade did taste good. Vegetables (marinated just with olive oil or teriyaki sauce) were good. I was too tired by then to enjoy it much, and I thought the chicken was actually a little bit dry, but maybe I’m just paranoid about dry chicken. It would be great if I could find a way to cook chicken sufficiently without burning the outside.

Will take pictures next time, Scout’s honor.

Recipe of the week: Curry chickpea chicken stew thing

How to make fucking spicy curry chickpea chicken stew thing:

Buy these things:

Oh, but clean the house first. At least, vacuum and wash the floors a little where they’ll see them first when they come home from skiing, to make a good impression, so their first thought isn’t this feral guy cursing at the cats for the past week.

Then buy these things: chickpeas (800g. organic, except the organic chickpeas come in packages of 350g, and the non-organic come in packages of 500g. so you could buy three of the more expensive organic ones, or two of the cheaper non-organic ones, or – hey! one of each, which gets you closest), chicken breasts (a total of eight, except the packages you find have seven at the most, seven half-breasts, so you get the heaviest package, because you figure that’ll get you closest to the right amount but in the end, maybe eight complete breasts would have been better we’ll see), four bell peppers (two red, two orange). carrots you have. Um, let’s see. You’re doubling the recipe for some reason you forgot. You need lemon juice, carrots, oh, buy some red onions, you have ginger… and the spices you have – curry and chili peppers.

The chickpeas you have to soak overnight.  While the chickpeas are soaking, your wife has a flat tire up in the Alps somewhere and your family misses a deadly avalanche by about 15 minutes. Your wife calls you and says, forget cooking, come and help us out with transporting stuff back. But the chickpeas have expanded enormously overnight, you have like this huge mixing bowl full of them, and you can’t just not cook them. So you drive up. It’s a 3-hour drive each way, well, two at least, between two and three depending on how fast you drive.

On your way there, it’s one of those days where the car goes really fast, it’s hard to keep it to the speed limit although you’ve forgotten where the radar boxes are. And you drive and drive, and try to visualize how to get there. You’ll recognize the landmarks when you see them. You are a visual person. You drive by landmarks, not road names.

You are glad you left early because you can still see stuff that way.

Then you hit the fog and wow. But you make it there and only hit ice on one bridge and sort of skid a little then you’re there filling the car with luggage, you eat with your family and then drive home and somehow Gamma is in the car with you which is good because you figure she’ll keep you awake.

And she does. Listen to historic music (the Ramones, at her suggestion) and listen to her talk really fast, pausing twice to tell you how remarkable you are. Bask in the finite glow of a kid thinking you’re the greatest, knowing it won’t last forever, probably. She says wow, how can you know so much? I ask you something, anything, and you answer me and then tell me 300 more things besides. Tell her you’re a tiresome, pedantic know-it-all at heart. Tell her you learn things when you have a TV-free childhood, and become a know-it-all. She mentions relatives who are pedantic know-it-alls although they have televisions, and you two laugh and joke all the way home. Also she talks about how she has to navigate by landmarks, because street names and so on are just confusing, and you say, Amen.

Arrive home with your eyes sticking out on stalks from all the Red Bull you drank to stay awake. Try to get in the door. The chickpeas have expanded so much they are now sentient.

Chickpeas: What is the password?

The password is always SWORDFISH.

You: Swordfish.

Chickpeas: That’s wrong.

The password always used to be SWORDFISH. Sorry.

Cook the chickpeas while daughter checks Facebook acct. While they are cooking (they have to cook 1.5 hours) boil the chicken breasts for 15 minutes in chicken broth. Chop the vegetables while that is going on, fry them in a pan.

Child: We accept you, we accept you, one of us! One of us! I have an earworm.

Slice the chicken. Add spices to broth. Put everything together eventually and cook it a little and then place it in the cellar to cool. Go to bed. It’s late. Get up. Taste stew. It’s extremely spicy. Make rice to take the edge off a little maybe. Go to work. Try to stay awake. The end.