Wednesday, July 22, 2015

In Which I Roast a Bird

I'm not sure I'd call myself a great chef, but I'm fairly confident in the kitchen. I know my sauces, am comfortable with a knife, and have an idea what all of the spices in my cabinet can do to a dish. If I'm given a recipe and some basic instructions, then I'm almost always successful (unless the recipe is bad, in which case it's not my fault).
Despite the ten years I've been living as an adult on my own, and the extraordinary number of turkeys I've cooked in the last few years (three per year, okay, maybe not so many), I've never roasted a chicken.

And you have to understand, we love chicken. Not that fancy marinated stuff, just plain chicken with some garlic salt, pepper, and sometimes onion. I've grilled it, baked it, pan fried it (no deep frying in this house), stir fried it, poached it, and slow cooked it. We eat chicken probably two to three nights each week. Sometimes I wonder whether I'll grow feathers!

Fred Meyer had whole chickens on sale this last weekend for $0.99 per pound. I picked up a little five pounder and planned my attack for Wednesday this week. I rinsed the chicken inside and out, put it on my fancy new roasting laurel in a pyrex pan, and patted it dry. I caressed and massaged butter and oil deep into the flesh, seasoning tenderly with salt, pepper, and sprinkled just about all of the green spices in my cabinet. I labored over the raw bird until the oven reached 450°. Then, I applied heat.

Fast-forward thirty-five minutes. I noticed a slight haze wafting through the house only seconds before the fire alarm sounded. Quickly fanning the detector with the closest kitchen towel, I tried to make it stop. The oven was not, in fact, consumed in flames. I had no indication anywhere in the house that a fire had been set, so the alarm, now screaming for a second time, was purely annoying. I fanned it again and caused it to cease. In the thirty seconds between fire alarms going off, I managed to remember to turn on the oven fan. Still, the alarm went off again. I dashed to the sliding door in the living room to provide greater air flow, but I neglected to remember that the exterior doors in our house are all monitored by the security alarm. In the same instant that I opened the door, I remembered what I'd forgotten, slammed the door shut, and sprinted back to the alarm panel to turn that alarm off. Within two seconds, the fire alarm went off again. Fan, fan, fan! And then a voice from the alarm panel boomed out, "Hello, this is the security company, are you okay?"

"It's just a chicken! I swear, I am not burning the house down! I opened the back door by mistake to let the fumes out and I'm sorry. I'm perfectly fine! I swear, this is my first time making a chicken in the oven and I'm new at this housewife thing and I just want dinner to be perfect tonight!"

The voice stifled laughter and asked for my name and secret password to confirm my identity. I provided both and got him to go away just before the fire alarm sounded one more time. Fan, Fan, FAN! And then I got the stand fan from the office and aimed it at the smoke alarm to prevent it from exploding. Also, my ears from bleeding.

With the chicken at a lower temperature, the drippings not smoking everywhere, and me standing right in front of the fan to cool my nerves, The Man returned home from work. The poor guy had to wait an extra hour for me to finish roasting the chicken before it was ready to rest and then be carved. We had some cornbread un-stuffing (just baked it in a dish, not in the bird) and a salad to round out the meal.

Without a doubt, that chicken was among the most satisfying birds I've eaten.


Jules said...

Thank you for the chuckle. We also have a temperamental alarm in the hallway. The kids know when the alarm goes off it usually means I am baking/cooking something. This won't be a problem until we really do have a fire in the house (which I pray never happens)

Everyday Obscurity said...

Oh, my! This is the very reason I usually avoid cooking while Jr. naps - I'm paranoid about setting the smoke detector off!