Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Black-Boned Chicken Saga: My Pree-cious!

I told at least 6 people today about the black-boned chicken (no one had heard of it) and I couldn't get it out of my mind, so immediately after work I went to Hua Sheng Supermarket in Chinatown and bought one of my very own.

When I'm in Chinatown, I like to try to blend in and pretend I'm Chinese, so I just keep quiet and make like I know what I'm doing (so far from the truth). The black-boned chickens (they labelled them Silky Chicken) were in a display case just like any supermarket and I was relieved that I didn't have to ask the butcher for it (so I could keep up my charade). It was in styrofoam and shrink wrap just like any little chicken anywhere. Next to the shrink-wrapped ones were some in plastic bags that obviously had their feet as well as their heads. I thought to myself, "thank goodness there are these nice, pre-butchered ones." I proudly carried my purchases in white Hua Sheng bags and hopped on the Spadina streetcar, looking for all the world like a Chinese girl.

I got home and started Googling recipes. I think that since these birds are so small and lean, they need to be stewed or made into soup rather than being roasted. I wasn't about to face cutting up the entire carcass, so I figured I'd just roast it anyway and see what it looked/tasted like.

So, remember how glad I was that MY chicken was pre-butchered and had no legs, feet, or head? Um, well, actually, the legs/feet were tucked in the south cavity and the head was folded under and flattened against the styrofoam backing. And I'm all like, "hey, I can do this. I love food." I pulled the first foot out of the cavity and I literally shrieked. It was under tension inside that cavity so it sort of boomeranged out at me and it was ENORMOUS with big, black claws. When I bent the knee joint to put the foot back in the cavity, the fingers flexed like they were gripping something.

I was sweating. What do I do? I can't do this. Should I throw it away? Should I bring it over to my neighbour even though she just bought one yesterday? I wrapped it up again, put it in a plastic bag, and tied it up tight as if it might get out.

I was all alone because Darcy was at soccer and I needed to talk to someone, so I called Marcelo who I knew was at a stag night. Thankfully he answered, but it was really loud where he was so I basically bellowed this whole story to him at the top of my lungs. I confessed to him that I might have to bag the entire operation and he countered that I HAD to get through this. My good friend Amanda was at the stag too so he passed me to her. After hearing the story, her sage advice was to take the bird to a butcher and have him cut off the head and feet for me. After I hung up with her, I called my mom thinking she must have cut a head off a chicken before, but she hadn't. Her equally sage advice was to just keep the feet and head on and roast it as is. I know what this sounds like. How may chickens have I eaten in my life and never considered as animals who used to be able to eat, sleep, and flex their feet? This is a great lesson for my Canadian, sanitized, spoiled self.

So after drinking some whiskey (I rarely drink at home, but I really felt like I needed it) and watching 2 hours of Last Comic Standing, Darcy came home and we cut off the head and feet together. He'd never done it before either, but he's much less of a wimp than me. He found the appropriate points and applied the extra force needed to cut through the bones. I feel like we've crossed some kind of threshold. As soon as the head and feet were gone, it looked so benign. Just like any other chicken, but black (purplish really).

It's 1AM now so no black chicken for dinner tonight. I'm toasting an English muffin and calling it a day. Tomorrow, we're cooking it. I'll tell you all about it. I couldn't resist posting this last picture. Doesn't it remind you of Gollum from Lord of the Rings?

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