Sunday, June 26, 2011

CHOPPED: The Home (Bachelor) Edition

By Peter Rodman

I never meant to smear Katy Perry.
It’s just that the latest issue of Rolling Stone was a little too close to the butter, when I made a snap decision this afternoon, to create my very own episode of Chopped.
I’d thawed a beautiful, plump, organic boneless chicken breast earlier in the day…and the pantry was so full, I couldn’t see behind the cans of Beefaroni I'd recently bought--strictly for nostalgic reasons, of course. (For the record, I also stock 'Popeye’s' brand spinach. It’s a loyalty thing.)
So I figured I’d make an entirely unplanned meal, out of whatever occurred to me, as I went along.
My “basket of ingredients” would be…anything I thought of!

I’ve never had such a fun Sunday.  (Well, there was that time I broke my arm.)  Also, I'm wondering:  Do other people laugh out loud, mocking their own cooking, when nobody’s around?  I mean...not including at mental institutions? 
...or should I remove all but the plastic knives, around here...

My rules of the game were simple:
The thought process in creating this meal would be completely 'spur-of-the-moment.' An entirely stream-of-consciousness (and ingredients) concoction!

First, I decided to chop an onion--‘Paul McCartney style,’ of course. He (infamously) created a YouTube video a couple years back, detailing his score-then-slice dicing method.
It’s eight minutes long.
My half-an-onion took around fifteen, narrowly avoiding an emergency room visit.
(And no matter how many times I've washed my hands since, this keyboard will smell like onions one year from now, I guarantee it.)

Meanwhile, I started two pots of boiling water, not knowing what I might put in them. (I’m so adventurous!)
Moments later, while standing on a stool, I spotted some Uncle Ben’s Instant Rice.
Okay, that’ll be my only cheat…promise.

That, and the ear of corn in the fridge, that looked kind of iffy. As I husked it, my heart sank. Those beautiful white-and-yellow kernels had turned to a hundred tiny, shriveled elephants’ toes, during its four week (all expenses paid) stay, in my luxury veggie bin.
Ah, well…stick it in the microwave!

I recalled having bought some chicken-specific batter for frying a while back…so I set out to find it, standing on the tallest chair in the house, and carefully edging the full cabinets around.
AH!!! There it is, just as I remembered it!

“Kentucky Kernel’s Seasoned Flour--Since 1810--Perfect for Chicken!”

Well, almost 1810, anyway...
For some reason, I’d already started the George Foreman Grill, so I thought I’d bread the chicken with the flour, and just grill it.
Unfortunately, I don’t do a lot of breading in the house.
Okay…I don’t do any.
(Translation: I don’t really know how.)

Breading fail
 So I figured, if you just take an egg and crack it in a bowl (I think I saw that once…) then mix in the flour, it’ll serve as an adherent!
Launching into my 'Topo Gigio' impression,  for no good reason, now: 

", Senor?"


I mean, it did serve to 'adhere' the flour to the egg, alright--but unless you’re planning on doing some serious outdoor caulking on brickwork, this was nothing like any ‘breading’ you’ve ever seen.  (I'm figuring a half an hour with an electric sander on 'high' should get most of it off of my utensils.)

Because I have a poor memory and I travel a bit, I always label my groceries with the date I purchased them, in Magic Marker. As I tossed the boxes into the trash, I noticed that the flour and the egg were thusly labeled:

Yep, that's right.  Five year old flour...older than my neighbor's kid.  
You will note the many handy recipes on the box, too.
(Unfortunately, until this very moment, I didn't.) 
As for the egg, I'm not saying it was late term or anything, but a pro-life picket line broke out in my kitchen. 

Still, I did not lose heart.
On the kitchen counter before me sat one of the most beautiful, plump, tender breasts that had been in my house in a long time (if you don’t count mine). I scraped what flour-dust remained onto the chicken, and dropped it onto the grill.

Uh oh…the rice!!!
I’d been counting on my ‘bed of rice’ to save pretty much anything I created, but by this time, this particular bed looked like a 'Going Out of Business' item, from Mattresses Plus.

So much for timing.
I re-zapped the corn, gathered up the chicken, and disgustedly plunked my plate of dinner onto the table. (Note the angry 'presentation,' above.) Took a bite of the chicken, which looked dry, but was actually delicious…and then, at the last minute---as if to compound every earlier mistake-- I decided to add some Paul Newman’s Sockarooni Sauce, just in case.

Just in case what, I now wonder?
Just in case the rest tasted as good as the first bite?
No danger of that now, my friends!

I once had a neighbor ask, “What do you do in there, all day long?”
Now, you know.

This is how a bachelor (and aspiring retiree) whiles away the hours.  Despite having no competition at all, I was summarily 'chopped,' from my own (imaginary) episode of Chopped.
And just because I'm sharing my lameness, doesn't mean you should try to remedy it, either.
So please, send me no cookbooks.  
On the other hand, a couple more of those plump and tender breasts might be nice...

Copyright 2011 by Peter Rodman. All Rights Reserved.
CHOPPED (from The Food Network):

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