Sunday, July 6, 2008

Pulling four pounds of chicken is more fun than you think

On Sunday, I set a new personal record - I cooked for seven solid hours. I consider this good practice for the marathon of food that will be this Thanksgiving, when I give it a go.

My goal for Sunday was to give our Swiss friends a taste of a Southern Fourth of July (as close as I could get without an actual grill) and a couple of our local American friends an always-welcome taste of home. The first step was to get groceries - this took about three separate trips, since I have to be able to carry everything home by myself. Then I started prep work on Saturday. I hard boiled a dozen eggs and soaked then cooked a kilogram of dried beans (that turns into five pounds of cooked beans, in case you were wondering.)I chopped a couple things that wouldn't brown and made my Ambrosia Salad, since it gets better as it sits out. Now for the fun part - I proceed to grate almost a pound and a half of cheese by hand on my box grater. I see that it was good, and I rest.

The real work began at 10 in the morning on Sunday. Step one: poach and then shred 4 pounds of chicken breast. Poach in two batches. While poaching, begin browning bacon, onion, and garlic for baked beans. As browning happens, move on to batch two of chicken. Once chicken is all shredded, throw into gigantic heavy-bottomed pot and add a whole bottle of Jack Daniels BBQ sauce (from my stock of imported American delicacies) and then throw in half of a second bottle. Add a splash of ketchup, some molasses and dark brown sugar (also from my stock)and just a splash of cider vinegar. Cook on low for the next 5 hours. Mix up sauce for the baked beans and cook on low for the next five hours as well - this means I'm now down to two burners on the stove.

At this point, I'm feel hot and yucky from so much leaning over the stove and my arm is beginning to ache from stirring so much, so I move on to cooler tasks - deviled eggs. I made two different batches: one hot and spicy and the other with a hidden surprise - an olive underneath all the gooey yolk-tasticness. I got the recipes from one of my favorite cookbooks ever. Seriously, if you like deviled eggs, PLEASE buy this book. I've now made five different recipes and they've ranged from fantastic (springtime herb eggs) to sublime (spinach and bacon eggs - these almost made me cry). Once eggs were done and in the fridge, it was time to drag out ye olde box grater once again for some coleslaw-makin'. I grated a whole head of cabbage, a carrot, and cried my way through an onion. I should also mention that all this kitchen work was made much more fun by the slew of NPR podcasts I downloaded to keep me entertained while I cooked. One episode of radio goodness later and I'm sliding a bowl of fresh coleslaw into the rapidly-filling fridge.

Honestly, at this point, everything is starting to become a blur. I'm a clean-as-you-go cook and it was even more important to do so for this meal as I don't own enough big pots, pans, and mixing bowls for a meal of this size without using and reusing. All this cleaning means my fingers were completely pruned up by about four in the afternoon - this was a boon as it meant when I nicked myself with a paring knife or with my guillotine..sorry... mandolin (both of which happened) I didn't bleed at all! At some point I made a big batch of bourbon iced tea from Everyday Food magazine that was a huge hit.

Now that I think of it, ours was a very Martha meal (except I bet she's never run out of mixing bowls). My coleslaw recipe, macaroni and cheese recipe (cheddar, gruyere, and tilsiter cheese for me), drink recipe, and baked bean recipe (sauce section only) were all from various Martha publications.


Carl E said...'re either nuts or you really like to cook!! I'm guessing the latter... :-) Judging from the efforts, I'm sure you'll pull through just fine for Turkey Day in November. Heck, you have 4 months of practice!!

Miz K said...

Can't it be both?? I do love to cook - I find it so relaxing... now dishes, on the other hand... not so much fun. Hope things went well today!

Carl E said...

Of course it can be both, what are you, nuts? Oops, isn't that rhetorical? ;-) Just kidding....hope you have a great time with Mr. K's parents!! I'm sure they'll enjoy Fribourg and the rest of Switzerland!!