desperance (desperance) wrote,

Q: How are journals like snails?

A: Hermaphrodite! They can plug into each other!

I really am very slow. It has taken me until Day 3 to realise that, while the new foodie journal can certainly inform the "kitchen diary" entries over here, and any other rambly food-related disquisitions also, I can also link these entries into that journal: so that if I want to yarn on about, oh, tonight's dinner, eg - as apparently and to nobody's surprise it turns out that I do - then I can do it here among y'all, and drop a link to this entry on this day's page in my private journal, so that when I come to check the #stuffing hashtag over there I can follow it through over here for a more detailed reminder of what I actually, y'know, did...

Anyway. Chicken. Stuffing. Mum used to stuff chickens with Paxo's sage-and-onion mix: which we all kinda liked, but it was one of the rare things in our kitchen that came out of a box, and I always did have a vaguely resentful feeling that somewhere out there was a whole other world awaiting.

Which is not to say that I fell upon the notion of homemade stuffing with alacrity and glee, even once I confirmed that it was indeed a thing. I didn't use to roast much, so I didn't use to stuff much, just occasionally for special occasions (which is the worst way to learn to do a thing well, because you don't practise and then suddenly you're on the big stage and everything is tense and worrymaking and rightly so: one or two of my most wake-up-and-shudder-in-the-darkness cooking experiences have been focused around large roasts and stranger-guests and the slow drag of calamity arising).

Since I moved to California, I've been roasting more - two or three chickens a month - but even so, not so much with the stuffing: just chuck a lemon and/or an onion into the cavity and carry on. Oh, we stuffed the Christmas Thanksgiving turkey, of course we did, and that turned out okay; but generally, not so much my thing. Until that blessed recent duck, where I could go all spicy and ricy and love it myself and hear m'wife still be saying even a day later how much she liked the stuffing.

So, yup. Doing it again with a chicken, see how that works.

For the record (and I say again, this came initially from Madhur Jaffrey, but I have adapted):

I fried a red onion with heaped half-teaspoons of cumin seed, fennel seed and fenugreek (largely because I forgot to fry the spices first, but hey). Then in went grated ginger (lots) and a red chilli from the garden. Sizzle sizzle, and in went a handful of Katherine-dried tomatoes from last year's garden (Katherine has a food dehydrator, that I keep wanting to call a dehumidifier, to such a point that I had to put "food dryer" into Google to remind myself of what the actual word was) and a bunch of cilantro chopped fine; sizzle sizzle, and in went cooked rice (a third of a cup of basmati in its raw state, boiled especially for the occasion, as I had no leftovers this time, on account of we ate it all last night; a third of a cup was probably a bit too much, but hey); sizzle sizzle, and in went a handful of golden raisins (which may be sultanas to you), half a dozen chopped dried apricots and a handful of pine nuts. Final sizzle, a scatter of crunchy salt (not too much, as there's salt in the rice already), lots of pepper and a shake of cayenne, and set aside to stuff the chicken with.

The chicken I have perched on a layer of halved potatoes in the skillet, just to see if they cook deliciously beneath the bird. It is thoroughly stuffed, and there is still a little stuffing left over (see above, under "too much rice", I suspect: next time a quarter-cup, and we'll see). I wiggled my finger between the chicken's skin and flesh, because I do devoutly believe that helps to crisp up the skin even if you don't put anything into the space. Now I'll give it an hour and a half at 400F, and we'll see how it all comes out. (I do believe someone may once have told me not to play with my food. A murrain upon them, and all who think likewise. I suspect that a realisation that it's okay to play is the first step towards really good cooking. Hell, it may be the only step.)
Tags: kitchen diary
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