Achievement Unlocked: Dismembered Chicken (Without Dismembering Self)

There are a few bits of data I should get out into the open before I continue with this “blog” thing.

1) I’m 22, part-time employed, and living in a part of Baltimore where people get their groceries from Save-A-Lot, not Whole Foods.  Thus, this is not a blog where you’ll find recipes involving artichokes or gray sea salt or similar fancy things.  I’m generally shopping at Safeway or, if I can make it there, the local farmer’s market.

2a) Having said that, I quite enjoy cooking for myself, my four housemates, and an ever-expanding crowd of friends.  My fourth or fifth question upon meeting someone is “So, do you have any food allergies?”.   The next, regardless of the answer, is “Awesome!  Wanna come over for lunch/dinner?”

2b) Really, I just like making people happy.  One of the most satisfying ways to do so is by cooking for them, either by making something they’ve never tried before, or a new spin on an old classic, or just some tasty snacks when the occasion warrants.  This seems to be doubly true for my friends with dietary limitations; I’m slowly improving my repertoire of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free cooking.  Extra-satisfying is when my recipes get passed on and made by completely different people!

3) I’m a little accident-prone.  I am barely allowed around knives after having sliced open two fingers while trying to cut a lime, of all things.  (In my defense, I was exhausted, the lime was hard, and the knife was apparently not sharp enough.)  I have broken more glassware than I’d care to admit (though, to be fair, it was very cheap glassware), ruined a couple of pots and pans with metal utensils (whoops), and once had to throw out a mixer after gumming it up beyond all reason with marshmallow batter.  Hence the title.  That chicken didn’t come apart without a fight!

4) Beyond all else, I’m informal.  I have a normal-sized kitchen to work with, but I also have four housemates, and none of us are particularly good at cleanup.  I’ll be adding pictures to this blog later, but I’m retroactively adding some recipes, and also…frankly, my mise is a mess.  As long as the food makes it to the table looking and tasting good, I’m not particularly picky about how it got there.  Life’s too short to panic about doing dishes, eh?

********

So, on to that chicken.  The boyfriend is having his lower two wisdom teeth out tomorrow, and in anticipation of not eating anything more solid than Jell-O for a week, he requested today’s lunch/dinner.  He and his siblings grew up with a Filipino nanny, so Chicken Adobo is one of his fondest comfort foods.  Having a whole chicken in the freezer and the rest of the ingredients comfortably scattered around the kitchen, I of course agreed.  This is one of the easiest ways ever to prepare chicken, and if I had a slightly longer food attention span, I’d make it at least once a month instead of, oh, twice a year!

I use a different source for the recipe every time I make this, but it’s mostly the same.  The main change I made this time was to use a whole chicken instead of just leg quarters as I’d done previously.  The experience of cutting up a whole chicken was a worthwhile one, but in the future, I think I’ll stick to dark meat for this dish.

Part I:

  1. Remove chicken from freezer.  Experiment with microwave’s “defrost” setting.  Thank housemate for reminders to turn chicken over.  Take chicken out of microwave about thirty-five minutes later, defrosted and squishy.
  2. Put Dutch oven on stove to collect chicken.  Prepare stock bag (quart-sized Ziploc bag).
  3. Peel plastic wrap off of chicken, discard, and pour juice off cutting board into sink.  Look up chicken-dismembering tutorial on Internet.  Do not ask housemates for help; one is vegetarian, one at work, and the other two squicked out by raw meat.
  4. Referring to gourmetsleuth.com, cut legs away from body.  Decide to leave legs whole when unable to find joints.  Mutter threateningly at chicken.  (Your mutterings may vary.)
  5. Peel chicken skin, throw away, and remove wings.  This is the comparatively easy part.  Do not try to skin all of wing; decide that it’s okay to leave that bit a little less healthy.
  6. Reach “cut carcass in half” step.  Realize that your knife skills are not up to this.  Peel breast meat away and drop in pot; wrestle rib cage away from rest of chicken; slice most of the rest of the meat off and drop the bones in your stock bag.
  7. Put stock bag in freezer and examine heap of chicken pieces.  Not bad.
Part II:
  1. Peel and smash twelve garlic cloves.  Realize that some of them are the size of three normal cloves; slice in half.  More garlic cloves will not exactly doom this dish, if you get my drift.  🙂
  2. Pour 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar and 3/4 cup soy sauce into the pot, over your chicken.  The recipe I used today was written for a 3 1/2 – pound chicken; mine was 4 1/2 pounds, hence the adjustment.
  3. Add the garlic cloves to the pot, along with four or five bay leaves if you have them, and a generous sprinkle of ground black pepper.  If you don’t have bay leaves, thyme is slightly less traditional, but works just as well.
  4. Start your rice in your rice cooker.  I honestly don’t know how I cooked before this gadget entered my kitchen.  I have made homemade pasta and gnocchi, cooked entire Rosh Hashanah and Thanksgiving dinners from scratch, given truffles as Christmas gifts, yet cannot make rice in a pot without burning it.  Yeah, I know.  In any case, base your amount of rice on the number of people eating it; we ate ours with the product of two dry cups of brown rice.
  5. Add anything else you want to adobo.  One time, I added spinach; being out and not sure how well kale would work in its place, I played it safe this time and sliced in five medium red potatoes.  There were no complaints.
  6. Bring your pot to a boil over medium-high heat (I have gas, and 7 works fine), then turn down to about 5 and let cook.  The chicken is forgiving; somewhere between 25 and 45 minutes, it went from questionably cooked to perfect.
  7. Serve chicken and vegetables over rice, with generous helpings of sauce.  Revel in both comfort food and boyfriend’s squee of delight.
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