Stalking the Waiter

Riffing on foods, flavors and methods, that would be telling.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Necessity Being the Mother...a fried chicken fantasy

Our stovetop died a couple weeks ago. One night during dinner, it made a quiet little whoomph, like something bursting into flame, or maybe a baby mortar round. I checked, but nothing was burning, all seemed to be okay.

The next day, when I turned on one of the burners, it hummed at me, and the humming grew louder and louder. Then I started hearing crackling sounds. Turned off the burner and backed away. I gave it a day and tried again. Same thing. Clearly we needed a new stovetop.

Do you have any idea how many choices there are in stovetops??? What I yearned for was one with a grill included, but they all require a downdraft, and we have a drawer under the stovetop. So, without spening a few thou for new cabinets, that wasn't going to happen. What I also really, really want is a gas stovetop, but that's not going to happen either. We live in the country, and the supplied services consist of PG&E and telephone. We have well water and septic systems. If we want gas, we have to buy a huge tank and get pipes laid to bring it to the house, and, of course, have the gas delivered. Sigh.

And, do you know, I just can't get myself to make a decision. Because I really want that grill included. So, while I am angsting about not being able to have what I want without remodeling the whole kitchen, I've been trying to think of reasonable ways to cook without using a burner. There's the microwave, but you can't fry chicken in a microwave, or do a stir fry, or boil pasta. I'm a little slow off the mark, because it wasn't until a few days ago that I thought about the oven.

Oh, I broiled a steak one night, but what I really wanted was some nice crispy chicken. Not deep fried, but sauteed until it was crispy on the outside and done in the middle. Then, brainstorm! None of that pathetic "spray a cookie sheet with pam etc." for me. I took my great big chicken fryer, about 14" across, put in some of that lovely chicken fat I have in the freezer, cranked the oven up to 400, and gave it a few.

When it was good and hot, I seasoned the chicken pieces and put them skin side up into the now sizzling fat - they'd crisp up from the oven heat and would keep the underlying meat from getting dried out. Ooh, listen to the lovely hiss as they settle in. :G:

I reduced the heat to 375 F, and, after about half an hour, I checked. They were gorgeous, crispy on both sides and done just right. Mm-mm-mmm. ;+) I hadn't realized how much I was missing a piece of cooked meat until then. I feel so clever, although it's not all that amazing a concept, but it amazed me.