You have to know my friend Rita. She’s less than five feet tall, in her
70s, tiny as a baby bird She can still stand on her head in her yoga poses.
I used to get up early at writing conferences, and see her upside down against
a wall. She’d been there for awhile. She’s adventurous as a cook and fearless in the kitchen.
Last weekend we were talking chicken. I was thinking wine and cream. Rita was taking after her chicken with a cleaver and a pan heated to 500 degrees, for 45 minutes.
Here’s are pieces of a note from her: “Oh, my god, you remember the chicken! If you had gone by around 4:00 you would have seen all my windows and doors open: front, side, back.” She was pretending the door was open while she was simply watering the outside potted plants on either side of the stoop.
“Melissa Clark, The New York Times Dining!!! writer would have been evicted from her apartment building had she cooked an uncovered chicken in her oven for 45 minutes at 500 degrees. The smoke has cleared now and there’s no smell, but there’s no way I can clean the self-cleaning oven in the usual way unless we move out of the house overnight. From top to bottom it’s gooey, sticky, and as brown as Melissa Clark promised the chicken would be. I’ll fill an old (antique) pepper shaker with baking soda and sprinkle and throw it all over the oven, then spray with water and hope to god that in the morning I can then use old towels, swab it up like I’m cleaning a battleship deck.
The chicken, splayed out as a described, accomplished not by a simple flick of the wrist to separate the thigh joint but by using a wrestler’s grip, was delicious, but I didn’t notice so much since I was worried about my favorite OXO teakettle that in my battle with the chicken I let run dry on a hot burner.
Stop me the next time I get carried away by a New York Times recipe. Jan said it all when she suggested that I invite complexity! I even quoted her a couple of times to Joe, who had three helpings of the chicken.”