Thursday, August 12, 2010

Not my day

Yesterday was one of those days - you know, the kind that start off badly and go downhill from there? The kind of day where a minor error takes an hour to correct; where small interruptions escalate into major irritations, and every completed task is immediately replaced by two more that need doing.

I made a special trip to Raeward on my way home from work, entirely for the purpose of buying a lemon in case the partially-used one I had at home was not enough to make my garlic lemon chicken (p141). At this point, I was feeling so worn out that a chocolate fish was absolutely necessary to survive the distance home.

Thus refuelled, I made it home, to be greeted by the dishes I'd been ignoring for two days, and and a house in dire need of a vacuum. Instead of dealing with either of these, I spent an hour or so sitting around in front of TV and heater, before finally dragging myself into the kitchen.

The garlic lemon chicken was a reasonably simple recipe - just mix up lemon zest and juice with garlic, soy sauce and paprika, brush over chicken drums, wrap in foil and bake for 30 minutes. This stage of the process was completed without a hitch. I got the chicken in the oven and ensconced myself back on the couch.

Incidentally, I never ended up needing that lemon I made a special trip to get. In fact, I put it in my jacket pocket and forgot about it. I was quite amused this morning when I went to put my jacket on, and a lemon fell out of the pocket!

With about 10 minutes cooking time to go, I stared throwing together some stir fry veges, using the 'make it up as you go along' method which traditionally yields extremely mediocre results (when I do it, anyway). Naturally, I misjudged the amount of oil needed, and the time it would take, so by the time the buzzer sounded for the chicken, I was looking at a frying pan full of soggy, overcooked veges.

I checked the chicken, but it didn't look cooked. I put it in for another 10 minutes, and, not wanting them to get any soggier or less appetising, sat down to eat my veges. In the process of consuming these, I managed to drop several pieces and get splatters of the oily sauce on my table runner, carpet and clothing.

When the oven timer buzzed again, I tried piercing the chicken with a skewer. No blood oozed out - a good sign - but no juices either. Well, maybe chicken cooks differently when it's done in tinfoil? Surely 40 minutes is long enough to cook a chicken drumstick! I put a couple on a plate and sat down to try them.

But when I cut into the drumstick, the chicken was uncooked on the inside. I don't mean undercooked; I mean completely raw. What the..?

Back in the oven for another 10 minutes, during which I collected up the splattered table runner etc and got them into the washing machine. When the timer buzzed again, I took it out and made another slice in the drumstick: still not cooked. Back in for another 10 minutes.

Getting off the phone from Mum just as the chicken was approaching the 1-hour mark, I took the dish out again, and, reaching up to turn the oven off, realised what the problem had been all along: the oven was set to grill, not bake.

Yep, that'd do it.

With the drums wrapped in tinfoil and nowhere near the top of the oven, it's not surprising they hadn't cooked in 30 minutes. Still, after 1 hour, they didn't look too bad. I put a couple on a plate, sat down and took one bite. It tasted ok, but I still had an uneasy feeling that it wasn't properly cooked. Cutting further into the center of the drum, I found it still wasn't cooked through.

With the oven on bake this time, I stuck the dish back in. In the end, The drums were cooked for a total of 1 hour 20 minutes, during which time I managed to work my way through the pile of dishes, including Monday night's chop dish with burnt-on kiwifruit marinade - which, despite two nights' soaking, still required a good deal of elbow grease to remove.

By the time the chicken was finally cooked, I had absolutely no interest in eating it. I wrapped up a couple of drums (one now completely mutilated from me constantly slicing into it) for my lunchbox, and went to bed before anything else could go wrong.

Eating the drumsticks cold at lunchtime today, I was surprised at how good they were. A little dry, but that's to be expected given my unconventional cooking method. I think if you actually cooked them according to the recipe, they'd be quite nice.

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