Day 479: There’s More Than One Way To Pluck A Chicken

originally published April 23, 2013

I sat down to write this morning and found myself a little bit hungry. Good news! The first item that squirmed through the button-hole of randomosity belonged to chicken lollipops. Okay, they’re just the inner sections of chicken wings with bones sticking out of them. Nothing special, but it was enough to set my stomach a-grumblin’.

And so I turn to the swath of chicken recipes on the wild world web. I’ll dedicate this one to my mother, who – because of my father’s obnoxious disdain for red meat and pork – was forced to serve us chicken four or five days of every week.  I’m amazed I can still eat the stuff.

But here are some recipes she never tried. Maybe she will feel compelled to take a daring walk into uncharted territory and try something bold.

Like some Flying Jacob.

The Swedes are not widely known for their exquisite cuisine, apart from their delicious IKEA meatballs – and no, I don’t care if they once neighed… smothered in sweet, sweet lingonberry sauce, those are some tasty balls. But while their cuisine may not be internationally famous, we all know that folks in Sweden know how to cook.

Flying Jacob was a recipe first published in 1976 by a guy named Ove Jacobsson, who worked in the air freight industry, hence the dish’s name. It’s a casserole consisting of chicken, whipped cream, bananas, chili sauce, roasted peanuts and bacon. It’s chicken weirdness in a dish.

If you’re looking for a  meal that might have repercussions for the rest of your life – and no, I’m not suggesting Taco Bell here – why not sample some Engagement Chicken? Glamour magazine editor Kim Bonnell gave this recipe to her co-worker one day in 1982, and before long the woman was engaged. Three other women in the office made the dish for their boyfriends and received a ring on their fingers shortly thereafter.

Call it superstition, call it a marketing ploy by the chicken industry (or the diamond industry – those fuckers are always mucking about with ploys), but you have to admire an entrée with an origin story. When Howard Stern found out that his girlfriend, Beth Ostrosky, made him this recipe after he’d famously sworn off marriage, he called her on the air and gave her hell for it.

Two years later, they were engaged.

This is the perfect dish to serve someone whose mind you’d like to see explode. All you need is some cocoa powder, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, baking powder, milk, flour, salt and ice cubes. Oh, and red food coloring. If it sounds like you’re making red velvet cake, well you are. Specifically you’re making red velvet icing in which you’ll be dunking your chicken fingers before frying them.

Does this sound vulgar? Disgusting? Offensive? Perhaps. But the person who posted this recipe swears it tastes delicious, though that’s exactly what they’d say if this were just an elaborate prank on the net-surfing public. I agree with the first comment at the bottom of the page: “Needs bacon.”

Here’s one to not make, ever. Keeping in mind that foreign lands often utilize ingredients we westerners would sooner put collars around and give cutesy names like ‘Mittens’ to, I present Dragon Tiger Phoenix. This recipe, which originates from (and should probably remain in) the Guangdong region in southern China, can be served as a dish or apparently as a liquid.

Three animals are used in this concoction. The ‘dragon’ is represented by snake flesh. The ‘tiger’ is represented by cat. And the ‘phoenix’ is just plain old chicken. If that isn’t a disgusted look on your face, then perhaps a vacation down to South China might be in order for you.

Hey, Rosh Hashanah is coming up… well, eventually. But why not get some practice by cooking up a fresh batch of gribenes? Lots of ways to eat gribenes, a traditional Kosher delicacy. You can eat them as a snack, throw them on some bread, or toss them into some of that pasty (and tasty!) chopped liver you’ve been brewing.

The key ingredient here is ‘cracklings’. We’re talking about the skin and fat of the chicken, nothing else. Throw out all that meat – we’re in snack country. Fry up them cracklin’s with some onions and salt and pepper, and you’ve got yourself a cholesteriffic snack!

As we head back to the Guangdong area, where apparently they like to do some pretty strange stuff to their food, why not sample a bite or two of Snake Bite Chicken? Actually, “Because it might be fatal” is a good response to that question. This is an actual thing. The chicken is to be bitten by a venomous snake, sometimes several times. Then, usually after ten or so minutes of the chicken clucking confusedly about, looking up at you with an imploring pair of desperate eyes, it dies. Then it’s time to dig in.

Health authorities in Guangdong, who evidently have no problem with feline ingredients in their main course, have asked restaurants to stop serving snake bite chicken. There is no health benefit to serving it this way, and it’s entirely possible that some of the venom will kill the diner. Maybe not, I don’t know, but could it possibly be worth the risk? Jesus, just go get a bucket from KFC and stop trying to be fancy about it.

Oh, and some restaurants will serve you the snake as well for an extra twenty Yuan. Now there’s a bargain.

Okay, this isn’t technically chicken. But how could I resist tacking something yummy and artery-clogging to the end of an article that features dishes involving cat, fat and poison? This is something called Chicken Fried Bacon, and it sounds delicious.

How could you go wrong? First you take bacon – which already guarantees you’ll be enjoying the dish – then you dip it in an egg/milk wash before breading it like a finger or a nugget. Deep fry that sucker and you’ve got yourself a southern take on nature’s greatest meatstuff.

I’m not going to be so ignorant as to believe that my childhood would have been improved by my mother sampling any of these recipes (except the last one, of course). But a bit of variety with that singular bird would have been nice.  There’s only so much fowl a guy can feast upon, y’know.

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