Chicken with Noodles

1/2 chicken
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh (or 2 tablespoons dried) tarragon
1 cup chicken stock
1 pound egg noodles
3 carrots
1 cup of young peas
salt and pepper to taste

Brown a half a chicken in a 350-degree oven. Actually, fuck it—brown the whole thing. Interesting question is whether you should have just gotten a duck like the young and still wildly misunderstood Pops Armstrong would have done, dousing the whole thing with cayenne and (let’s be honest) some less-than-legal “herbal” rub that gives the poultry a glisten of pump-and-thrust that The Man just can’t deal with. If you don’t have the money, and shit if we’ve had any money recently, you can do the whole thing with rabbit for a fraction of the price as long as you’re willing to spend a couple hours in the backyard at the crack of dawn with a baseball bat, a butterfly net, and some Vicks VapoRub. Just make sure the cunicular flesh is tender to the touch after it’s stopped twitching in your hungry, bare hands.

Whether you go with chicken, duck, or rabbit, you’re gonna get a nice flavor if you rub the skin with the butter and sprinkle the whole carcass with a mixture of the lemon and tarragon. You know it’s done when the slow roast of the oven turns the skin light brown and it starts to pucker, pulling away from the pliant meat ever so slightly, the same way Billie Holiday would drop just enough behind the beat to make you certain as rain that sweeping the floors in Alice Dean’s Baltimore whorehouse at the age of 11 wasn’t exactly a bowl of bonbons. Man, the older Billie got, the more her voice croaked into a fucking personification of slavery itself and you’d have to be a moron or a plantation owner in one of the darker corners of Alabama not to realize that Artie Shaw and his fucking clarinet were little more than a phallic nightstick of oppression without Billie’s wounded sound rescuing the whole band and making you see that the chicken is now totally ready to be pulled out of the oven and set aside to cool.

Boil the noodles in a mixture of stock and water, undercooking them slightly. Test the noodles after three minutes, as most people will overcook them, ruining the whole meal. You want to strangle these people. You want to ask them whether they plan to get a fucking clue, but you don’t want to listen to their lame excuses, like how the phone rang while they were boiling their noodles and they were distracted for a moment, because anyone who would overcook an egg noodle is the moral equivalent of a fan of the Paul Whiteman band, whose thievery of the work of true artists and general WASPy pomposity can only be met with the derision found at the end of a left hook, and thus such a person would not even have a friend who would be calling during the cooking of said noodles. So, for God’s sake, test the noodles after about three minutes. If you don’t like sticking your fingers in the boiling water, then by all means don’t start cooking the meal until you’ve managed to finish a couple of late-afternoon Southern-Comfort-and-Cokes. Nobody said that cooking was painless, but you can do your best to make it that way. Drain the noodles and return them to the pot.

Cut the skin from the chicken, then tear at the meat with your fingers, creating a series of white fleshy strips. Think about all the parts of your body that used to look that good—lean and firm and delicious. Never mind.

Somewhere back you should have cooked the carrots and peas. Who really gives a shit how you do it—you think it makes a difference? Jesus, you expect me to tell you how to do everything. Then mix the meat, vegetables, and noodles in the pot, adding an extra tablespoon of butter and the salt and pepper for flavor. It’s a meal in one dish. If your kid doesn’t like it, talk to him about the Depression until he shuts the fuck up.