Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Saliva Producing Recipes

Nuggetized Chicken With Black-Strap Molasses And Pork And Bean Jus Dipping Sauce
I don't want to honk my own horn or pat my own back or spit-shine my own shoes, but I'm considered a bit of a gourmand in certain circles and before my hotplate began sparking and eventually caught fire, I hosted many an elegant dinner party as befitting a man of my stature. And a note to all my naysayers out there, you know who you are, Knuckles Falubian, a xeroxed diploma is still a diploma and it's only due to my foresight and deep understanding of the traps and tripwires this world lays in our path, that I had my diplomas from various esteemed universities xeroxed, since it was only weeks later that the originals were burned to cinders in a meerschaum pipe explosion. Now that I have gotten that out of the way, on to this most tantalizing recipe. As many of you have read in my profile, I have a vast knowledge in the raising of poultry for fun and profit.
Perhaps, one might ask, I see where there can be a profit but where, exactly is the fun? Needless to say, chickens are far more entertaining than you'd believe and can be taught everything from dancing to piano playing with a minimum amount of effort, a bit of diligence and a loving but disciplinary hand. Of course, the right chicken helps as some are unteachable and would rather be pecking for seeds than playing Bach's Concerto #5 in E Minor at the local 4-H club. But the right chicken is like a breath of fresh barnyard air and the entertainment possibilities abound.
But once a chicken has exhausted its entertainment options, whether through old age, disease or just plain delinquency, then it is time to put that bird to rest and turn it into something delicious. This may be a hard thing to imagine if you've grown to love a certain chicken, but as we in the Poultry For Fun And Profit business understand, these are the laws of nature and cannot be tampered with. So, once you have beheaded your chicken, gutted it and plucked its feathers (amazingly, this can be done in a small space and I have had excellent results in my sitting room with just a pair of rubber gloves, some pinking shears from the dollar store and a wastepaper basket), it is time to start whipping up this saliva-producing dish.
Now, the origins of nuggetized poultry can be dated back to the 14th century and was greatly beloved by kings, queens and the aristocracy. It's a complicated recipe, as befits fine French cuisine, but here you shall find I have simplified the ingredients and instructions to adapt the dish to the more contemporary palate and pantry. A note here. Retain the chicken veins, for these are to be mashed up with a bit of buttermilk and the juice from the can of pork and beans to add a richer flavour and texture to the gravy-based dipping sauce. Originally the dish called for pigeon gizzards but I like to substitute dried squid flakes. If these cannot be found, simple ketchup-flavoured potato chips will do the trick, whatever brand's on sale. And it's nice to put a bowl of them out beforehand, a kind of amuse-bouche to tantalize the taste buds and tease your guests. Next, the poultry must be cut up into nuggetizing-sized pieces, which is a bit of a subjective process because I believe everyone desires a different nugget size based on the shape and amount of space in one's mouth. My preference is a medium-sized nugget that I've learned to measure out in the back section of the left side of my mouth, where I'm missing a couple of molars. I have found that if I cut the chicken pieces into the size and shape of the space of the missing teeth, this makes an ideal size for mastication. On the other side of my mouth, of course. If I forget and chew on the molar-less side, where, without fail, a piece of chicken will become stuck in the crevice, due to the precision of my earlier measurement, the poultry can be dislodged easily. To attain this measurement, I simply pack the molar-less area with some raw chicken, which I then remove and take my measurements where the raw chicken so ably shows the proper indentations and perimeter markings.
Even if you're not missing any teeth, this formula works wonderfully and all you need do is insert the piece of raw chicken in your mouth, feel about with your tongue to find the size best suited to you, use all the devices of your oral cavity to make the proper markings in the poultry, remove from mouth and then cut accordingly. Remember, the chicken will shrink a bit due to moisture loss during cooking so take this factor into account when measuring. Now, it's on to the breading. This is a crucial factor in the nuggetizing of the poultry for it's this crispy encasement, or carapace, if you will, that will help the chicken retain its juicy tenderness while being put to the flame. I have found that a combination of cornmeal, panko crumbs and Calabrese bread shavings work magnificently, but if these ingredients are not available or even if you're missing one of them, which will throw the whole breading off, then, again, crushed-up ketchup-flavoured potato chips will work sufficiently. I have experimented with roast-chicken flavour chips but found that the real poultry mixed with the simulated poultry seasonings creates a clash of tastes, that, although not unpalatable, is nonetheless overkill for the subtle flavours in this dish. Once your breading mixture is ready, it's time to prepare the poultry for the final nuggetizing step before cooking. Blend together milk, melted butter and salt and pepper but for those of you watching either your weight or your pocketbook, tepid water will do. In fact, I'm a firm advocate of  tepid water as a breading adherent since I feel it allows the full range of flavours from the poultry to not be masked by other savoury components. So, dip the chicken pieces in whatever liquid you choose, then into the breading or crushed potato chip blend and let rest on a plate while you heat up your cooking implement. I like to light three to four Sterno cans to get proper flame coverage under the frying pan or turn your hotplate to high or if you have a stove, well then, lucky you. Remember though, some of the best chefs in the world use nothing more than a box of wooden matches, some tinfoil and a partially melted spatula. Once you have cooked your nuggets to a golden brown, place them on a paper towel or toilet paper to soak up any excess grease, but not all of it because that's where the flavourization crystals lie, and then open up your can of pork and beans. Amazingly, I found this can at my local Sally Ann, puffing up a bit at the aluminum seams, but none the worse for wear and absolutely delicious. If you can't find this brand, I'm sure your local groceteria will carry something as good.
Strain the pork and beans from the juice using, again, either paper towels or toilet paper, retaining the beans for further use in another recipe. In a pot, begin to reduce the bean juice over the heat and then, slowly, pour in a half a cup of black-strap molasses. This molasses has an intriguing history, coming by its name in pioneer days when the strapping young men and women who forged their way from east to west, strapped great barrels of molasses, the-bringer-of-life as the Apaches called it, to their dirt-blackened backs as they hit the trail in search of a better life.
Once the bean juice and molasses has reduced to a jus, add the chicken veins if you have any and then place it all in a dipping bowl or Dixie Cup and serve immediately with the nuggetized chicken. It's been said this dish is what Napoleon demanded, just before being banished to Elba, knowing that perhaps, he would never see nuggetized chicken again. It's also what King Louis XVI ordered the night before being beheaded.
Voila. Your dish is complete. Your guests await. In my case, it's my landlady's, Mrs. Grabowsky's, cat that paws her plate and may I say, this creature really knows its chicken. An added note here. You may have noticed that I haven't given exact measurements of any ingredients. A true chef measures by eye and by taste and I urge you all to do the same. Also, if your larder is running short of essential condiments, any fast food chain stocks plenty of things like salt, pepper, sugar and ketchup. In fact, it's the latter, ketchup packs to be exact, that I usually gather to stock my larder in order to boost even further the flavour of the ketchup potato chips I use to bread my chicken. Just a suggestion.

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