With the opening of Fifty Shades of Grey this Valentine's Day weekend, I was compelled to reopen my beloved (and hilarious) copy of the cookbook parody: Fifty Shades of Chicken. In it, Anastasia is replaced by a chicken, whom Fifty proceeds to beat, rub, roast and fry into perfection. Here, the anonymous author of that cookbook (who is a very well-established food writer and cook) shares a little special Valentine’s Day intel from the hottest chicken I’ve ever come across.
Holy crap, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. Hearts and flowers and relaxed romantic dinners, right? But what if the one doing the cooking is, shall we say, a little domineering? The type who, when you suggest a nice little quickie dinner, tells you to relax and arrogantly explains, “I don’t ‘make dinner.’ I cook—hard.”
In other words, what if you’re dealing with a Foodie?
I know, I’ve been there—the rough techniques, the kinky batteries de cuisine, the endless instructions. The “very singular tastes” that can make even a weeknight meal into a multi-course marathon of transgressive eating. I’ve sometimes caught my inner goddess looking at her watch.
I mean, I like to be tied up as much as any young, raw chicken. But there are times the luxury sauces, the painfully large citrus and the long sous-vide baths can feel like too much.
Here are the five tips for a hot and romantic Valentine’s Day with even the most dominating control-freak home cook.
1. A little Champagne makes the noises from the kitchen—like pounding, cursing or hard wokking—slightly less intimidating.
2. A blindfold can heighten your other senses, making the purple-sprouted broccoli send gushing waves of rapture through your entire body.
3. Be open-minded. Your foodie’s aggressive use of mustard is all for your pleasure.
4. Vintage Beyoncé sets the perfect mood for a kale salad.
5. Use your safeword at the right time. No one likes a flaccid soufflé.
And foodies: Maybe Valentine’s Day isn’t the time to test your limits with the latest Ottolenghi or Keller recipe. Because let’s face it, sometimes all your sweetie really desires deep down is a good old-fashioned trussing.
Roasted Chicken with Tangerine and Sage
1 (3½- to 4-pound) chicken, patted dry with paper towels
1½ teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tangerine, cut into quarters
1 small bunch sage leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Season the chicken all over, including the cavity, with the salt and pepper. Thrust the tangerine and sage deep into the cavity of the chicken.
2. Move the stuffed bird, breast side up, splayed legs facing you, on a large, empty surface where you will have plenty of space for maneuvering. Take a 30-inch length of butcher’s twine and string it underneath the chicken’s back. Pull both sides of the string up over the chicken’s wings. Cross the ends of the strings over each other and give them a yank, pulling the wings tight to the body (see photo 1, page 36). Do not slacken or let go of the twine.
3. Now that you have tightly secured the wings, it is time to bind the body and legs. Pull the ends of the twine underneath the legs, crossing it underneath the bird, and wrap it around the ankles, binding them together. Wrap twine several times to make sure the ankles are tightly bound (see photo 2, page 37). Wrap the twine around the tail, pulling it tight to close up the cavity. Give the twine once last tug to make sure the bindings are secure, then knot the string. Trim any excess twine and step back to admire your handiwork.
4. Place the chicken breast side up on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil. Roast until the thigh juices run clear when pierced with the tip of a knife and the skin is crisp and golden, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let rest 20 minutes before cutting the restraints and having your way with it.
Learning the Ropes
Much pleasure and satisfaction is to be had from tying up your bird. Not only does it show your chicken who’s boss, but a tight binding ensures the chicken cooks exactly how you want it—evenly, moist, and tender. It also closes off the chicken’s cavity, so the juices swelling within can’t spill out, at least not until you’re ready for them.
Reprinted from Fifty Shades of Chicken: A Parody in a Cookbook. Copyright © 2012 by F.L. Fowler. Photos by John Von Pamer. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.