Submitted by Vera Wilde
Much like American history and why Facebook is evil, you think you already know this but you don’t. You don’t really know what roast chicken tastes like, or how to make it. Here’s how.
First, buy a whole raw chicken at the grocery store. Rinse and remove the straggler feather-bits. In the U.S., you have to remove the bag of giblets from the inside. But in Germany, you don’t have to worry about innards having been stuck in a paper bag inside a dead bird. I like Germany.
Peel and slice a head of garlic. Rinse and chop green scallions. Rinse and finely chop fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano, and parsley. Open the cooking oil — preferably a mixture of linseed for omega 3 along with sunflower and rapeseed oils which have a lighter taste and higher smoke point than olive oil. Open and line up the relevant dried spices: gluten-free chicken bouillon, pepper (preferably in a mill so you can grind it fresh), garlic powder, onion powder or granules, paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme, oregano, curry powder, and cinnamon sugar. If you are Southern and not lazy, you may already have the first eight of these mixed in a container. This is Cajun spice mix. (You will not find it pre-mixed in my kitchen, because I am lazy.)
Now you are ready for attack. Put the chicken in a deep, glass baking dish. Preheat the oven to around 190 degrees Celsius. Refuse to convert this back to Fahrenheit for an American audience, because you would renounce your citizenship today if you had a viable replacement. On an American oven, you need not worry about settings beyond temperature because American appliances are made for idiots. On a European oven, select both heating elements and ventilate.
Pour oil over the bird. Pierce the skin in about six places, and slide garlic inside, as well as inside the cavity on both ends. Evenly sprinkle the bouillon and spices, going heavy on the Cajun, and easy on the curry and cinnamon sugar. Then add the fresh herbs, turn the bird over, and repeat the process on the other side.
If you still have room in the pan, core and halve an apple. Coat it with oil and cinnamon sugar, and nestle it on alongside the bird. If you still have room after that, quarter a purple onion. Coat it with oil and curry powder, and nestle it in there, too. The apple and onion flavors will add to the flavors in the chicken gravy that the bird makes itself while it bakes.
It takes an hour and a half, during which time you can dice, spice, and bake more apples and veggies in a separate baking dish. Onions, fennel, carrot, and sweet potato are a nice combination.
If you are me and you can’t stop cooking because it’s so good to have food, a kitchen, and friends to feed after having gone hungry while sleeping on the floor without health insurance as a postdoc at Harvard, you also have time to sauté mirepoix with finely diced garlic, onion, carrot, celery, and parsley in olive oil with a bit of beef bouillon; dice and sauté a pan of mushrooms with a bit of wine; steam a pot of broccoli and cauliflower; put on some brown rice; chop the cruciferous vegetables; and mix the mirepoix, cruciferous veg, and rice to make a low-carb, high-fiber, tasty veggie rice. This is a nice base over which to pour the eventual chicken gravy, with a layer of mushrooms in-between.
If anyone ever tries to tell you she has a great chicken gravy recipe, don’t believe her. The best chicken gravy makes itself while the chicken bakes.
If anyone ever tries to tell you she has a great chicken soup recipe that doesn’t involve picking clean these roasted chicken bones to boil, don’t believe her. All you have to do is eat the chicken, pour water on the bones, and boil the pot down—but great chicken soup requires this whole process.
And if you ever ask anyone how to make her delicious roast chicken and she says the bird does all the work, don’t believe her. She thought this was true and used to say so with a smile. But then she got a terrible migraine with neurological symptoms so bad she couldn’t find her own wallet, keys, or ass with two hands, and was subsequently unable to make herself a simple soup for days. She threw away two pots trying, gave up and made Nutella on toast instead, and realized something important about taking credit where credit is due.
I did not lie, but I was mistaken in my mind. I am the bird who does all the work.
First Watch Millionaire Bacon
Submitted by Amy Barnes
I recently found out synesthesia is the savant-like ability to see numbers as colors. That doesn’t seem particularly useful to me. Now if I had that skill while eating, that might be cool. What foods taste expensive? What foods taste cheap? What foods do we pretend taste awesome only because they cost so much and we feel compelled to act like they are worth the money? When I think about what makes a millionaire or what millionaires might eat, my mind goes to things like caviar or truffles. Or to the obscure, expensive things Alton Brown adds into Chopped mystery baskets along with white bread and gummy bears (the foods of the peasants). They are the rich people foods that gave Robin Leach his distinctive accent. As a kid, I was convinced his throat was coated with gold leaf to make him sound like that. I also imagined he only ate expensive foods and not at normal people restaurants like McDonald’s or Chilis or The Cheesecake Factory.
This brings me to First Watch: The Daytime Cafe’s Millionaire Bacon. First Watch only serves breakfast and lunch. It is a place where ladies (and gentlemen and millennials) brunch. Millennial ladies that eat avocado toast and call it yummy when we all know it looks like smushed-up peas on dried-out bread and has the matching texture of baby food but is expensive because avocados are not cheap. First Watch already had bacon on their menu. I say there can never be too much bacon. Too much smushed-up avocado, yes. There can be too much avocado. When I eat avocado, I only see sad babies that aren’t getting fruit.
One day, the uber-brunch-y First Watch must have been visited by the illustrious Robin Leach (he’s not dead but I had to check Wikipedia to make sure — who knew?) I imagine there is a clause in his contract; any time a food is named after a millionaire, he is summoned. Millionaire chocolate candies by Pangburn. Leach approved. Mushed-up avocado on organic, gluten-free toast — not Leach approved. He must have also questioned the turkey sausage and quinoa-everything but since they were First Watch-priced and not Waffle House-priced; they were allowed to stay.
I imagine he moved on to the latest (now permanent menu item) on the First Watch menu. Just as a hangry aside, I am still mad at First Watch for not making the Cinnamon Roll Waffle With Cinnamon Sugar Syrup a permanent menu item too. An Eggo covered in Pillsbury Cinnamon Roll white frosting at home just isn’t the same.
Back to the magical, millionaire bacon. Featured on the menu board, menu, and at each table are these tempting words. Take a moment and think about them. Imagine the bacon. Imagine Robin Leach sitting at your table speaking in dulcet tones about:
“Millionaire Bacon: Four slices of our signature hardwood smoked bacon baked with brown sugar black pepper cayenne and a maple sugar drizzle.”
The menu also suggests it is a shareable item. I know Robin Leach wouldn’t suggest sharing. Unless it’s Grey Poupon from their limo, Millionaires aren’t sharers. So no sharing of Millionaire Bacon. Ever.
I sat down with another lady who also brunches to… brunch. I secretly sent up a prayer to one of the dead popes that had tons of money that she wouldn’t order avocado toast. I pushed the Millionaire Bacon placard into a suggestive position. My ploy worked. I am not a millionaire so I offered to break the cardinal rich-people rule and share the bacon.
She agreed and thankfully ordered one of First Watch’s other specialties: the carrot cake pancake as big as your head.
When the Millionaire bacon came, it looked non-assuming. Just four strips of very sticky looking bacon on a rectangular plate. When I tried to pick up a piece, my food synesthesia kicked in. And yet I didn’t hear Robin Leach as I expected. Instead, I heard the ’80s Def Leppard classic in my head.
Pour some sugar on me
Ooh, in the name of love
It’s hot, sticky sweet
The Millionaire Bacon couldn’t be eaten with your fingers because of the overwhelming coating of the maple sugar “drizzle” which wasn’t really a drizzle as much as it was half a bottle of Aunt Jemima saturating the four pieces of bacon. Trying to cut the bacon merely got my knife stuck. I finally gave up and picked it up with my fingers, pinky extended in case Robin was lurking. The bacon was somehow spicy enough to make my eyes water and sweet enough to overtake the giant carrot cake pancake flavor. Note to self: don’t rub your eyes after touching cayenne covered bacon.
Someone had paid for our brunch when we tried to pay. I could swear I heard Robin Leach laughing a Millionaire bacon flavored laugh. My friend and I finally ended our struggle to eat our way through our expensive, super-sticky meat course. I pondered: Is Millionaire Bacon really for millionaires? As the bacon was many times stickier than a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.