It was one of those nights. Time and dinner got away from us, which if I’m being honest, will happen a lot lately and even more so as the days stay lighter longer. This is an unexpected byproduct of not working, which means my wife and I aren’t arriving home from a long day at the gristmill, famished and ready to eat. We eat when we’re hungry now. Two breakfasts, lunch whenever, dinner when we’re hungry again. You get the idea.
Mrs. G. was busy knitting purple baby hats for a charity event tied to the upcoming Lilac Festival, so it fell to me to make dinner, which I can do but I can’t come up with the “what are we going to have” concept. If it were left up to me to plan dinner, we’d have pizza, eggs and potatoes, or sandwiches every night.
My wife came up with the idea of cooking some thawed chicken that was in the refrigerator and mixing it in with lentil soup, with a baked potato on the side. This sounded hearty and easy, so I agreed to make everything while she knitted away, constructing a hat that would fit on a grapefruit-sized baby head. This was clearly an exacting process that involved talking to herself a lot, so I started making dinner.
“Be sure to rinse off the slime,” she said, breaking away for a moment from the detailed conversation she was having with herself. Unless rinsing off the slime was some sort of casting technique, I was guessing she meant rinsing the chicken. In the heat of the knitting moment, I went with my gut instinct.
“Right. OK,” I said.
Now let’s be clear about something: Raw chicken is the most disgusting of all uncooked foods. It’s packed in some sort of fluid that is the slipperiest substance known to exist; it’s filled with more bacteria than a gas station bathroom and who even knows what those red clots and extra flaps of skin are doing there. Raw chicken is the poster meat for vegans. Rinsing was the least I could do.
I cut open the package over a plate near the sink, since it was inevitable that the bubonic plague of raw chicken goo would splatter out with the chicken, which it did, so I patted myself on the back for planning ahead. Metaphorically, of course, since my hands were now covered in raw chicken sewage and weren’t fit for touching anything other than more pieces of raw chicken.
I turned on the faucet with my elbow, minimizing the chances of a global raw chicken pandemic, and washed my hands. I then grabbed one of the two cutlets and was planning on snipping off whatever the mechanized butcher in the Big Chicken, Inc. factory had missed when the entire cutlet slid through my fingers, smacked the bridge in the kitchen sink and slithered straight down into the garbage disposal. If this were filmed in reverse, this scene could have been used in one of those space alien movies where the creature comes out of the sink and takes over a human body.
So, now what?
“Um … the chicken went down into the garbage disposal,” I said to my wife, and without missing a beat and in dead seriousness, she replied, “Just take it out and wash it off.” This made me wonder how many chicken cutlets I’ve eaten in thirty-five years that have been fished out of drain holes, which, in my opinion, does not qualify in the slightest for the three-second rule.
Two things were going on in my head. One, I’m not intentionally eating garbage disposal chicken, and two; I’m not sticking my hand into the chomping maw of a garbage disposal for anything, let alone an elusive and slippery chicken breast that made such a valiant effort to escape the gas grill.
“Sure, but first let me cut it up,” I said and flipped the switch, where the one horsepower Insinkerator fileted that cutlet into manageable pieces and swallowed them whole. Rachael Ray could not have cut up a chicken breast faster.
“Dinner’s ready!” I said.
Anyway, with one safety cutlet left, I covered the drain hole, just in case, and prepared the thing as if it were a slab of dry-aged Kobe beef, cooked it, sliced it into chunks and mixed it with the soup. Potatoes were nuked, the table was set, and dinner was served. It was a culinary masterpiece to say the very least, and there were leftovers for whatever meal the whim suited. Could be breakfast, could be lunch because that’s how we roll theses days.
I had the leftover lentil soup/chicken combo for lunch the next day. Ate it straight out of the pan with a side of Fritos since the potatoes had grown gnarly clumps of eyes overnight. I simply wasn’t prepared for that much food surgery that early in the day.