Tuesday, April 8, 2008

How the Sticky Chicken almost got the best of me

A few weeks ago, while perusing various blogs that participate in Menu Plan Monday, I found this recipe for "sticky chicken" on the menu of THREE different bloggers. I was amazed, especially since I had only visited five or six sites. I thought that maybe I'd have to give it a try sometime. The next week, whole chickens went on sale at Meijer, and I knew it was destiny. It was time to make the sticky chicken.

I purchased my whole chicken, and even though I was pretty sure I had some onions in the pantry, I picked up another onion just in case. It's a good thing I did. Have you ever seen what happens to onions when you leave them in the pantry and forget about them for, oh, four weeks? I should have taken a picture, because it was very interesting. Interesting, but not exactly appetizing. So purchasing a new onion turned out to be a great idea.

According to the recipe the sticky chicken needs to be seasoned and stuffed with the onion and refrigerated overnight. And then cooked in the oven for five hours. Which means that it has to be a weekend recipe. [Side note - next time I'm going to try this in the Crock Pot.] On Saturday, in the midst of my cleaning frenzy to prepare for our open house, I realized that I had a thawed out chicken in my refrigerator and if I had any hope of actually using it before it went bad, I had to get that sucker seasoned and stuffed.

I assembled the ingredients and mixed my spices together. I quartered the onion. I pulled the chicken out of the fridge. That's when reality hit - I had to open this bird up and pull out the gizzard. And wash the outside and the inside. Yuck. I've done that sort of thing before (twice, I think) but still, it's gross.

That's when I also started thinking about the logistics of handling a big, slimy, raw chicken. I emptied out the sink, meaning that I had to put a few dishes on the counter which was already crowded with my roasting pan with the chicken, my cutting board with the onions, and my bowl of spices.

What ensued would have made a great "I Love Lucy" episode.

I unwrapped the chicken and did a twister-like move to get the dripping wrapper into the trash behind me, while maintaining a handle on the chicken. I tried to take my mind to a happy place and not think about the whole chicken in my hands, and the gizzard I had to extract. The inside of the chicken was still a little frozen, so I turned on some water to try and loosen up the ice. This made the chicken all the more slimy, and we went a few rounds before I could pry the gizzard out and do another spectacular twister move to put that sucker in the trash.

I craned my neck around to the counter behind me where I had put the recipe, which (of course) was upside down. [Note to self: take more time to plan ahead the next time I mess with a raw chicken.] That's when I decided to wing it. (Ha! Wing it!)

I attempted to put the slimy bird into the roasting pan. In one split second, this scene from Everybody Loves Raymond flashed through my mind and I was absolutely certain that I was going to drop the chicken and send it sliding across the floor and down the basement steps.

I imagined the bird shattering in several pieces at the bottom of the steps and flying into different corners of the basement. Now, I realize that a chicken probably would not shatter. But in one irrational split second when your imagination runs wild, anything is possible. I also envisioned having to apologize to our realtor the next day. "Sorry about the funky chicken smell. I tried to retrieve all of the pieces, but I'm missing a leg. After two hours I gave up looking for it. Can you follow people around with this can of Lysol and discretely spray it when you have the opportunity?" Thankfully this imaginary scenario stayed imaginary, because the chicken made it into the pan.

I started to rub it with the spices. I don't have much experience with rubs, and maybe I'm missing out on the proper technique, but I'm pretty sure that most of the spices ended up caked on my slimy hands instead of on the chicken. By this time I wanted to be done with the whole sordid affair so I moved on to the "stuff the quartered onion into the cavity of the chicken" part of the recipe. I think it was at this point, as I was wrestling with the raw chicken in one hand and a quartered onion in the other, that Mike poked his head into the kitchen.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm. Making. STICKY. CHICKEN!!"

"Oh." [Mike quickly exits. I probably looked like I might come after him with the intention of stuffing the raw onion somewhere else.]

Remove gizzard - check.
Wash chicken, inside and out - check.
Rub with spices - check.
Stuff with onion - check.
Wrap chicken tightly with plastic wrap, or put in a large plastic bag... hmmm.

I carefully weighed the pros and cons of plastic wrap vs. plastic bag. I decided to go with the plastic bag. As I prepared to make the transer, I had another split second vision of the chicken disappearing down the basement steps (now with seasoning and stuffed with onion), but thankfully it made it into the bag. A bag that now had seasoning all over the outside. It's a miracle that bird still had seasoning on it when I finally put it in the oven!

When all was said and done, this chicken was delicious. I baked it on Sunday evening, reheated it for dinner last night, and will use it again tonight to make chicken quesadillas. Despite my adventures, I will put this in the "keeper" recipe file. (Along with a note to have a better assembly plan.)

The moral of the story: Do not try new recipes with whole chickens on days that you are also preparing for an open house.

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