I recently brought a cookbook to work. It was a Christmas present from my wonderful boyfriend, and I just had to show it off. Why, you may ask. Because it is the most awesome cookbook I have ever seen. Not only does it focus solely on my favourite type of food, chicken, but it also parodies what I think is probably the worst best seller on the face of the planet – 50 Shades of Grey.
This cookbook is called 50 Shades of Chicken. Yes, that’s right. 50 Shades of Chicken. It’s a cookbook with 50 different ways to cook chicken. Whole chicken, sliced up chicken, bits of chicken – my mouth is salivating just thinking about the recipes. That isn’t the only reason why it’s so great. The book also tells the story of a lonely chicken as it makes its journey from a naive whole chicken living a spice-less life in the depths of the fridge to a delicious, melt in your mouth delicacy. The narrative is full of tongue-in-cheek humour that will leaving you laughing and yet full of a weird desire.
My co-workers had a great time reading through different pages, sometimes out loud. They especially liked the back cover:
“This isn’t just about getting me hot till my juices run clear, and then a little rest. There’s pulling, jerking, stuffing, trussing… he promise we’ll start out slow, with wine and good oiling… Holy crap.”
(Remember, that’s a chicken talking. Or would it be squawking?)
On a whim I decided I would actually try a recipe. My first question, of course, was “do they even sell whole chicken at the grocery stores?” Apparently they do…. they always have. In the meat section where you get your other chicken parts. I think my question shocked and amazed my co-workers. I’m OK with that. You have to shock people sometimes to keep life interesting.
Roasted Chicken with Bacon and Sweet Paprika
- 1 Orange
- 1 Tablespoon of sweet paprika
- 1 ½ Teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1 Teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 (3 ½ to 4 pounds) chicken
(that’s 1.59 kg to 1.82 kg for people who don’t do pounds)
- 4 ounces of bacon (that’s about 4 strips)
Getting the Ingredients
Oddly enough I had most of those ingredients. Well, sort of. I substituted table salt for coarse kosher salt and boxed ground black pepper for fresh. I didn’t know if I had Paprika, so I bought it just in case. Turns out I did have it, but I’d bought it a long time ago and wasn’t sure if it would still be good. Then I picked up a single orange. That felt weird.
Making the Chicken
Prepare the Chicken
Step 1: Zest the crap out of that orange
First off, I had no clue what orange zest was or how to make it. So of course, I googled it. Since I don’t have one of those nifty zesters, I used the small grater holes on my triangle cheese grater. For this recipe, I needed to grate the whole orange. This was mildly entertaining. I think the best part was the citrus smell that filled the kitchen. I love citrus. The bad part though? Tiny pieces of rind, tiny pieces of rind everywhere.
Step 2: Mix Stuff in a bowl
Put the orange zest, paprika, salt and pepper a bowl. Mix it up a bit. Step 2 done.
I had to decide if I was supposed to leave the chicken trussed up. It seemed cruel somehow. But there I read ahead a bit and it said that I would have to shove something into the cavity and figured it would be easier if the chicken wasn’t all tied up.
For the record, when I spread its legs, I definitely said eewwww.
Step 3: Oil & Spice up that chicken
After my initial disgust at handling a dead, nude carcass, I developed a better understanding of how this cookbook can be a parody of 50 Shades of Grey. As I massaged the chicken with the oil, I felt like I was massaging a human back. A very small human back. That had wings. And no head. OK, so I’m just weird.
That feeling disturbed me so I tried to push it away, but it kept coming back. It was grotesque, and yet oddly sexual. Though that could’ve just been the Merlot I was drinking.
I probably had more fun than was necessary after that. My hands and the chicken turned orange as I worked the mixture in. When it came time to flip the bird to spice up its underside, I made that little birdie dance and it was awesome. The disgust came back a bit when I had to coat the cavity… I won’t go into details, just two words: chicken puppet.
Note to self: next time I make this have a friend over – preferably one that won’t be horrified by a dancing chicken carcass.
Cut your orange into four and shove it right up that Chicken’s butt
This one is self-explanatory.
Cook & Baste that Chicken for 45 minutes
After the chicken was sufficiently covered, I threw it in a roasting pan and shoved it into the preheated oven.
This is where I realize I don’t have a baster. Or a brush. Or anything small enough to scoop up the juices from the bird as it roasted. I decided I would try anyway. So every 5 minutes or so, I went in and did my best to baste. By the 3rd attempt I gave up and decided it would either turn out or it wouldn’t. I’ve eaten enough of my cooking to know that I can stomach it.
Not basting didn’t SEEM to have any negative effects on my bird. So I crisscrossed the bacon on top of the chicken and pushed it back into the oven for another 20 minutes (or until the bacon was cooked).
Wait & Carve
After NOT waiting 10 minutes as the recipe suggested, I carved the bird. Well, I tried to. I more hacked at it until I got enough meat in my mouth to satisfy my salivating taste buds.
It was the most delicious chicken I had ever tasted in my entire life. And, here’s the kicker… it was STILL GOOD for lunch, dinner, lunch again, dinner again and lunch again for the next three days!
That, my friends, is why 50 Shades of Chicken is the most amazing cookbook in the world.