Lost in Starvation: Honey Baked Chicken
Cooking, for me, has always been the duty of an unfortunate third party. Growing up, there was mom. When there wasn’t mom anymore, there was a college cafeteria. When there wasn’t college anymore, there was the girlfriend. And when there wasn’t a girlfriend anymore, there was just me. In the kitchen. Alone. Staring inquisitively at a recipe card and wondering if I can get away with paying the delivery guy in quarters.
On a recent visit, knowing my lack of culinary muscle, my sister attempted to school me in the ways of our mother’s Honey Baked Chicken recipe.
“Easiest thing in the world,” she said, not allowing a pause for me to ask her important questions such as “What is that?” and “Why is this big metal box so damn HOT?”
Her subtle, concerned glances did not go unnoticed; but very soon, I was back on the East Coast with a lesson under my belt.
All right. Let’s get this epic disaster started.
- 1/3 C maragarine–melted
- 1/3 C honey
- 2 tbsp mustard
- 1 tsp salt (optional)
- 1 tsp curry powder
Can I substitute French dressing for mustard? Fuck it, I’m going to.
There aren’t too many things on this index card, and most of them I actually have, thanks to my mom sending a travel bottle of honey and a little plastic baggie of curry powder home with me on my last expedition to the ‘burbs.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the chicken in shallow baking pan. Combine all other ingredients but chicken, mix, and pour on chicken. Bake 1-1 1/4 hours. Good with rice.
My first problem with any recipe is that I see it requires more than three things I don’t have in my kitchen and I crumble under the pressure. At first I think, “Well, these are mainly just spices, and spice bottles are so small.”
Do you have any idea how expensive that spice rack in the grocery store is?! People are shelling out $3-4 for paprika?! How do you rationalize that? Why don’t you go home and eat another bowl of dried pasta for dinner, knowing that its food and it will fill you up as you try to grasp just how boring and tasteless your diet is like a normal person?
See, the problem is, I assume people will stomach the same crap I can/do. That’s the whole point of this, I guess. That and to quell some of my more deeply-buried fears.
The assembly required went pretty well, and about 15 minutes into the cooking process, the kitchen began to fill with aromas reminiscent of my childhood and not disgusting—two brand new accomplishments for that particular room. This chicken was cooking.
At this point during my usual misadventures with a chicken, it’s still squawking in there. I often have to wait 20 minutes before it even explodes. Clearly, as the kitchen smelled of warm honey and spicy curry, I was doing something correctly; rather than the bloody stench of blood and feathers that usually fills the air.
So, an hour went by, and that chicken still seemed a little soft. I poked it with a spoon. Cautiously, I turned the heat up on the oven from 350 to 400.
“That ought to char this bitch,” I thought, but shouldn’t have.
Surprisingly, the extra 15 minutes I gave the clucker did it well. Maybe that’s saying more about my oven than the creature, or my skills. But the truth is, I knew it wasn’t going to be as good as mom made it. I just wanted it to be food.
And it was! It was food that I could chew and swallow and be in my stomach without making me it’s John Hurt. That alone was a success. But the fact that it tasted good made me think that perhaps I could handle a bigger, better, task with a much more scrumptious payoff.
Next time: Blackened T-bone with Root Beer BBQ Sauce. Yeah. Gettin’ ballsy. Now, to turn off the oven.