Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Great Day for a Hanging - Chicken, Just Chicken

Winner, winner, easy peasy chicken dinner.

If you like to use a crockpot, you will like this method for preparing chicken. Not that it involves a crockpot, but it does stretch out the time you will use to cook the chicken.  Like the barbecue experts tell us, "low and slow", although this has nothing to do with smoke or barbecue.

Confused yet?  Hey, I'm confused all the time! Today was a tough one.  I was on the telephone with a Social Security advocate's office, and I must have sounded like an idiot (PC Alert! Yes, PC police, I know these terms - moron, idiot, and imbecile - are no longer used when discussing persons with learning disabilities, but I am talking about myself, and I have a frikking Literary License, so cut me some slack) because I could not string two words together or answer simple questions.  I am a mess, and getting messier.

I was able to work with James on the picture hanging project, although he had to do the math.  And the hanging.  My brain may be slightly scrambled, but my eye is still good when it comes to judging wall hangings. Well, my eye is good as long as I am wearing my super-duper stronger-than-dirt eyeglasses. (I am pretty sure that my eyesight is continuing to deteriorate at a rapid pace after having remained the same for 30 years, and then crashing 200 points in each eye.  Still heading to a place where they don't measure one's eyesight in numbers anymore.)      

Depression - deep, dark, blacker-than-night, paralyzing, enervating, debilitating - is a funny thing. It prevents you from moving forward on projects.  It prevents you from finishing even the most mundane tasks.  Like hanging pictures. And unpacking. We lived in the Flora Vista house for 11 years, and I never fully unpacked. Also didn't come close to hanging all the pictures.  I got stuck on stupid and stayed there for 11 years.  At least in the Ocita house, all the pictures got hung.  Never fully unpacked either, there's another 11 years. Yeah, I've been depressed a long time. You should have seen my basement in Ronkonkoma.

This house is a great deal smaller than any of those, but there is a pretty good amount of wall space, so the time is right for a hanging.  It's shaping up nicely, and as stressed and overwhelmed as I feel, it helps to see old familiar faces on my walls.  It is, of course, a work in progress, but I took some (really crappy) photos of what's gone up so far.

Back to the chicken - it is ridiculously easy, and with the low-and-slow method you can knit a sweater, or at least a scarf, while the chicken cooks.  You don't have to check on it, or baste it, or sauce it, or bother it in any way, shape, or form.  Seriously. Walk away. Read a book. Check your email. Well, at least for the first 2 hours. Then ... let me explain.

If you have access to a BJs, buy the chicken thighs there.  Don't bother to rinse the chicken; chicken-rinsing has fallen out of favor with the Salmonella Police, don't you know. I buy the chicken in pillow packs, 4 thighs to a pack, and they are as clean as any dead chicken is going to be.

Open up 2 packs, so you have a total of 8 thighs.  Leave the bone and skin intact. Tuck any excess skin around and under the thigh.  Pat the chicken dry, using paper towels. Throw the towels away. According to the Salmonella Police, the towels are toxic.  I know what you're thinking, you can figure out how to do it.

Mix the seasonings together:

2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon Raging River 5 Pepper Seasoning Blend
1 teaspoon dried chives
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. I used convection, which converted the temp to 275 degrees. Season the chicken generously on both sides and place in a baking pan skin side up.  Place in the oven and walk away for the next 2 hours. Read a book. Do some gardening. Or, as my cousin Maura would say, let Calgon take you away. Relax, the oven knows what it is doing.

At the end of 2 hours, carefully remove the pan of chicken to a level surface.  You see all that rendered fat?  Leave it alone.  With tongs, carefully turn each piece over.  Lightly re-season the exposed side with the seasoning mix and some sweet paprika, and return to the oven for another hour or more until the chicken is very tender.  Turn the oven temp to broil and crack the door open an inch or so.  Broil for 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, and turn the chicken skin side up.  With a paper towel, blot away the excess oil, then sprinkle with a little more seasoning mix and sweet paprika.  Broil until the skin is crispy, not more than 5 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the pan to a serving dish or another clean pan.  Discard the rendered fat.

The chicken is very tender from being cooked low and slow, essentially in its own fat, like a confit.  I highly recommend that you serve this with old-fashioned mashed potatoes, peeled Russets, boiled, hand-mashed, and enriched with hot half-and-half and a whole lotta butter.  You will love this dish.

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