Sometimes things go wrong
I am quite certain you read this blog for recipes that work. Or perhaps my witty commentary. But sometimes things go wrong and I have to admit that I do not always turn out spectacular food.
It seemed like a good idea yesterday to make the Chicken Sofrito from the Jerusalem cookbook, one of the greatest cookbooks ever produced in my opinion. By all appearances, it’s a simple recipe: slowly cook chicken in its own juices and add a nice bed of crispy fried potatoes underneath. Chicken, potatoes, a few spices and an onion. What could be easier? I miscalculated.
The recipe calls for you to put the chicken in a large pan with low sides. I do not have such a pan. So I cram the chicken in a smaller pan with low sides. I know as I am doing this that it’s not going to work. Dang it. Remove chicken from pan, find larger cast iron skillet with high sides and wash previous pan after scraping off encrusted barely cooked chicken parts.
Put chicken on the stove on low. It’s supposed to cook for an hour before the potatoes go in. How hard is it to fry potatoes? Not hard. Just incredibly messy.
And I start to realize it will take King Daddy and I until Labor Day to eat all those potatoes. No matter. It is more of a problem that I didn’t have enough oil and have to fry the potatoes in batches of three. It eats up the entire hour.
At this point, I am to add the potatoes to the chicken which, according to the recipe, should be beginning to fall off the bone. I open the lid. Oh, dear.
It is not falling off the bone. It is entirely, sadly, intact. I am more than an hour into this recipe and I sense disaster. I briefly consider throwing everything away before King Daddy gets home, but the chicken is organic and it is apparently some kind of International Court violation to throw away anything that once had a beak and and two scratchy legs. So I pause a moment to ponder.
The saddest selfie ever recorded. Wine and cigarettes were required. I sit on the deck for a few minutes reviewing my options. I am already so screwed, but I decide to proceed apace and live with the consequences.
Exhibit D: Well, alrighty then. The potatoes and the pan juices look pretty tasty. Only a half hour to go so what the hell. Chicken goes back on top and it simmers covered for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, King Daddy comes home and I warn him that this meal may rival my worst suppers ever made (Fish Jello being at the top of the list). He seems to think I am over-reacting.
It is…acceptable. The chicken, as predicted, did not fall off the bone but it was moist. The potatoes were quite tasty. And I learned a few lessons in the process, the most important being that when you make a recipe for the first time follow it exactly. I substituted chicken breasts for a whole cut-up chicken because K.D. and I don’t like dark meat. But the legs and thighs would have added a lot more moisture and juice, thereby getting the chicken to that fall-off-the-bone stage.
And, most important, do NOT equate a less-than-stellar result with Armageddon. Although I always try.