They backed me into a corner. I mean what kind of food blogger can’t fry chicken? That’s not what they said exactly, but that what’s I heard. Miles outside of New York City, in small-town Pennsylvania, I was forced to face my fear of frying.
Any recipe that calls for more than a ½ cup of oil gets me jittery. All I can think about is splattered walls, soggy crust, and a P-in-the-A clean up. Until now, I’ve dealt with this problem by practicing avoidance. But fried chicken was my friend Alex’s birthday request, I’m supposed to be a cook, and I just don’t have the balls to disappoint a house full of people.
Truth: I’ve been fantasizing about frying chicken long enough to have Martha Stewart’s recipe memorized. The moment was destined to come to fruition.
The oil popped and I gulped white wine. Poised in front of a cookie sheet of flour and a bowl of dairy slicked chicken parts, I thought of Michelle Kwan and Michael Phelps. If they could ice skate and swim to Olympic stardom, I could fry some bird.
With each coated piece laid safely in the oil, my confidence grew- yeah Michel Phelps, you and me- champions baby.
Twelve minutes of cooking on each side produced crusty, golden, chunks. Hunched over plates, people oohed and aahed like I had just done a triple lutz. Can I get some applause? Each piece was checked with the instant read thermometer to ensure 165 degree bacteria free moistness. It was like everything I had ever learned about cooking lead up to that moment.
By the last batch, I felt secure enough to hand over my tongs and abandon post to raid the cheese plate. Tired and moving slow, I walked away from the stove with the vegetable oil sheen of a champion. Fear got its butt kicked.
But then there is apple season. I bought one at Whole Foods, a.k.a., Whole Paycheck, the other day for an astonishing 12 cents. Let me tell you this piece of fruit was so crisp and juicy that I began to croon like it was a GD filet mignon smothered in mushrooms.
Since that day I have had an apple with every lunch and I suggest you do the same. Indulge yourself in a different way by actually taking the time to cut it into portions and remove the seeds. You’ll swear it’s better than Snikers.
Below is a long recipe for a soup you will never make. It’s delicious, satisfying, low fat and perfect for lunch, but you will never taste it. The truth is that once this pot bottoms out, I won’t taste it again either.
Flung together from on-sale produce, thoughts of Mexico, and carb guilt, this soup was a custom designed never to be duplicated.
I torture you with this information because I want you to make a whatever soup of your own. Grab a big pot, pull out all your spices and go all mad scientist with wild hair, steam in your face and lids clanking to the floor.
Throw efficiency to the wind. I carefully dressed and roasted four on-the-bone chicken breasts just to shred them to bits with my bare hands.
Before you jump onto Mr. Toad’s wild ride, let me give you a couple of guidelines.
Begin with a broth or stock you really like. If that means using bouillon cubes, go right ahead.
Sweat your veggies before adding the hot broth. Letting them sizzle gently in olive oil will bring out the flavor.
Have a tasting cup or saucer ready. Don’t screw up a whole pot of soup with one bad spice selection. Instead put a couple of tablespoons in a small cup, season and sip. If your micro version works, you can safely upgrade.
Please come back and tell me how fantastic your soup was.
Whatever Pepper Chicken Soup with Beans
2 cups chicken (shredded)
8 cups broth or stock (heated)
1 medium onion (1 cup chopped)
2 celery stalks (chopped)
½ cup green pepper (chopped)
1 cup long Italian pepper (chopped)
¾ cup red pepper (chopped)
¾ cup carrot (chopped)
1 15oz can of corn (with juice)
1 can cannelloni beans (drained and rinsed)
2 bay leaves
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp all spice
½ tsp cayenne
½ cup milk
Add onions and celery to a pot with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Cook on low heat until translucent. (about 8 minutes).
Add peppers and carrots sprinkling with salt. Continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Add corn and beans.
Pour hot broth over vegetables.
Add bay leaves, cinnamon, all spice, cayenne and salt to taste.
Simmer covered until vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes)
Add chicken and milk