Sunday, September 2, 2012

My First (and Failed) Attempt at Chicken Stew


My Grandma Shaw likes to forward my Chronicle posts to her friends in Florida. (Thanks again, Grandma!) Out of these forwards have come my 2 pieces of what I like to call my "fan mail." Thanks to this fan mail and everyone else's comments, not only on cyberspace, but in person, I feel it is my duty to report everything chicken that takes place on the Shawhan farm. Even if the events are my failures.

That being said, one gentlemen who Grandma forwards my posts to sent me a polish chicken stew recipe a few months back, in response to the post Two Birds in a Bag in a Bucket. That post was about acquiring 2 old butchered roosters from the Amish in exchange for my young and vivacious sons, Chaz and Foghorn. I remember that day. It was a Saturday and for whatever reason I was in a hurry that morning so I wrapped my 2 dead birds in wax paper and put them each in a plastic bag. A skill that will NOT get me a job at the Tyson packaging plant. I had asked if anyone knew any good chicken stew recipes. Ask and you shall receive! John Wazniac e-mailed Grandma a yummy sounding recipe and she passed it along to me. Ever since, when opening the freezer door and seeing my 2 plastic bags I would think to myself, I need to cook those. One day when I get time....

I thought yesterday would be the perfect day. Dan had just returned home from a week long bear hunt, victorious I might add, and I had all day to make stew. I even drove out to the Mennonite general store and bought parsley flakes and chicken bullion cubes. Hot dog, we were gonna have us a stew!

The night before I went to the freezer and looked in on the birds for the first time since I put them in their icy tomb. I selected the smaller bird since I thought he wouldn't have to cook as long. After removing him from my awesome packaging job:

 I realized the chicken looked to be a bit freezer burned. I think it's obvious I like to name things around here and since I doubt this guy had a name at his Amish farm, I decided to give him one. I named him Freezer Burn.
Grizzly Adams, which is Dan's new name around here, said a little freezer burn wouldn't hurt, so I shrugged my shoulders and stuck Freezer Burn in the refridgerator to thaw, since that is supposed to be safer than letting him sit in the microwave overnight like I usually do.
At 5:00 last evening I started my stew. Two hours is long enough, right? To begin, I had to remove Freezer Burn's neck. After several cuts and some pulling and twisting, I succeeded. The first step of my stew recipe called for me to cut the bird in half. The Chicken Lady has a very sorry assortment of knives. Besides several steak knives, all I have is a small sharp one and another huge blade that looks like it has the starring role in a horror movie. I took the smaller one and began to cut. Or TRIED to cut. The skin was so tuff the knife wouldn't go through. I tried some kitchen scissors. That didn't work very well either. I debated looking through Grizzly' s hunting supplies to find a skinning knife, but I made a few cuts by the wings so Freezer Burn would fit in his pot of water and said "Screw it!"
As Freezer Burn set to boil, I chopped up my vegetables I'd add later. I chopped celery, carrots and half an onion...which made me cry. I filled up a bowl and set it aside.
Freezer Burn had to cook until he fell off the bone. An hour later he was fitting into the pot better, but he was still putting up a fight and hanging onto his bones. It was getting late and the Chicken Lady was getting hungry. I figured I could cut Freezer Burn off the bone, so pulled him out and gasped at the horror of what was once a pink chicken. Where I had made my "cuts" and used to be pink meat, was now an interesting shade of grey.
Freezer Burn had deteriorated in size and had actually gotten tuffer. With a sinking heart, I put him in a pan to show Grizzly when he got home. We were not going to have chicken stew since he didn't look that appealing and after all that work I STILL couldn't pierce his skin with sharp objects. I covered my chopped veggies and will use those with a roast later this week. Grizzly got home, wrinkled his nose and gladly accepted my crepes I made us for dinner.
Perhaps my failure was because the chicken needs to be fresh? I know it was my fault in how poorly I wrapped him up. I also know not to expect a chicken like that from Kroger's. I cringe in how tuff the bigger one will be and am wondering what in the heck am I going to do with it? I really wanted my chicken stew. Besides, what kind of farmer's wife would I be if I can't make a chicken stew?
Mr. Wazniac's recipe sounded so good! I AM going to try the stew again, this time with a chicken from the store. Maybe I need to practice on fresh meat.
Thank you 'Wiz of Woz'! I have not forgotten your recipe and I will succeed in making it. Thanks again for sending it to me.
If anyone ever wants to contact the Chicken Lady, my e-mail is:
                                                                                               ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

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