Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Epicurean Editor Cooks Some Chook

Up to last week, my chefly ventures never went beyond vegetables, carbs and processed protein.

Then a friend challenged me to cook chicken. Raw chunks of thigh, still on the bone. Inspired, in part, by a picture of spicy chicken wings on a Facebook page. She even bought the raw meat, just in case I tried to squirm out of it (photos here aren't mine, by the way).

Though intrigued by the prospect of trying out turmeric chicken, I felt it was too ambitious, and where was I going to find gloves? So I settled for a simple rub: salt, pepper, olive oil and a sprinkling of McCormick's mixed herbs (marjoram, rosemary, sage, thyme, savory). I let the whole lot sit for up to half an hour before putting it in the oven.

While that sizzled away, I prepared the other half of the meal.

Butternut squash, zucchini, red and yellow bell pepper, carrot and potatoes, all chopped up for roasting. I seasoned it with the same stuff I used for the chicken (with less salt and pepper). There was no room for brinjals by the time I was done with the other veggies. After that, crushed cloves of garlic went in and a few tosses later, all was ready.

The chicken cooked for about 45 minutes on 180 degrees C before I turned off the oven and took it out. It was delicious, and the taste even had the hint of KFC. If that wasn't enough, I splashed water on the pan, scraped what I could of the bits that clung onto the bottom, and mixed it all into a sauce of sorts.

... Yep, a bit too much salt. But what manner of alchemy merged the fat and juices that oozed out of the chicken with the oil and seasonings and turned it into something ... near-divine? I took spoonfuls of the sauce (for lack of a better word) with each bite of meat, and drizzled some over the roasted vegetables, which also turned out fine.

So, yes, I managed to cook raw meat. And the results were better than expected.

The friend loved it too. She used the word "orgasmic" at one point - betraying, perhaps, her penchant for drama. But it was relatively cheap and we didn't have to wait in line or pay any sales and services tax. And we knew what went inside.

And it was easy.

From that point on, a wide horizon of shifting colours stretched before me. Right now, it's tinged with the stark yellow hues of turmeric.


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