The Crazy Suburban Mom: What's for dinner soon? Chicken!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What's for dinner soon? Chicken!

I happen to love old cookbooks. I love the short ingredient lists... The simplicity of tastes... The possibility of finding a recipe where you have all (or most) of what you need to make it already... I love the lack of pretense in the older cook books. And I love how they don't coddle you... How they just tell it like it is... How they say what to do without breaking every step into minutia.

Today cookbooks treat us like toddlers... The older the cookbook the more likely it will tell you less. I know that is scary, to some...but cooking is an art, not a science. Live dangerously. Go with your gut when cooking. Don't look for directions for everything. Improvise.

But I digress.

Peg Bracken wrote cookbooks in the 60's and had a sense of humor. She would have had a heck of a blog it she was still around today. Yesterday I going through her Appendix to the I Hate to Cook Book and found a chicken recipe.

It's on page 39 and is called Bastard Barbeque. Racy, no?

Here goes:

"You will probably be suspicious, as I was at first, of the brown sugar. But go ahead.

Salt and pepper and lavishly garlic-salt a cut up fryer.

Put it in a shallow pan and sprinkle it generously with brown sugar (not the brownulated variety). Dot generously with lots of butter and bake it, uncovered, about an hour, at 350 degrees."

Ah! How simple and beautiful it is... No pesky extra explanations... No 'to taste' after the salt and pepper (which is really redundant if you think about it). And what are the amounts for garlic, brown sugar and butter? Only to do it generously and lavishly.

Poetry, I tell ya.

Chicken was 79 cents a pound at the A &P yesterday so I bought one. Instead of having a cut up chicken I just butterflied my whole chicken... Well, technically I didn't do it right but it's flat and looks like a butterfly. Well, one made out of a chicken anyway....


I followed the directions regarding lavish use of garlic salt and the generous use of the butter but I had problems with my brown sugar. My brown sugar was as hard as a brick so what ever I could flake off that thing, I used. It was sort of like the trying to take apart a building with a noodle.... It might or might not have been technically generous.

Looking at the picture now, there may be an over-generous amount of butter but what the heck? It will slide off anyway..

Since I was cooking a half and not pieces I cooked for an hour at 400 degrees and about another 15 (just cause I'm obsessive about cooking chicken) at 350. The last 15 minutes were mostly likely not needed. My OCD got the better of me.

Chicken Tonight!

This chicken IS delicious. Even picky son said "It's good, ma" which is equivalent to a rave. You can taste the garlic, you can taste the sugar (When reading the recipe I thought that could be a mighty strange combo... but nope. I think garlic brown sugar must be how heaven tastes!) and its got that mellow butter flavor that keeps everything from getting too out of control.

The butter mellows everything. Reins in all the random flavors and holds them together. It's the diplomat of the culinary world.


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