Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bird Under a Brick

Serves 1-2

3-4 days in advance: when someone gifts you a heritage breed petite chicken, accept with gratitude. Even though you have no idea when you're going to cook it, with how busy you are these days, you will find a way. Decide that instead of your usual sunday supper of popcorn and parmesan cheese, you will grill this bird. The forecast bodes well.

12 hours to one day in advance: pull the 2 1/2 lb bird out of the bag. Whack off the neck, which is still attached. Call the dog, who is napping, in for a treat. Admire the way he politely accepts the neck and takes it into the yard to enjoy. Liberally salt the bird and return it to the fridge.

1 hour ahead: Take the bird from the fridge and spatchcock it. That is, remove the backbone with a pair of kitchen shears (which you don't own) or a large chef's knife. The easiest way is to hold the bird upright and slice down along one side of the backbone, and then repeat with the other side. Remove the backbone and hand it over to the dog who is sitting attentively, drooling. Be self-satisfied that you feed your dog heritage breed chicken parts because he is worth it and will live forever as a result.

Mince 2 fat cloves of garlic with a length of fresh rosemary and rub it over the bird. Liberally anoint with olive oil and black pepper and let the bird marinate while you start the grill.

Start the grill: Fill your chimney up with hardwood charcoal and get a fire going. Let the coals heat for about 30 minutes in the chimney before you pour them into the kettle. Replace the grill grate and lay a brick, which you purchased at Home Depot to raise your fireplace grate and then stole from the fireplace, on the grill to warm up. Also, throw those last 2 potatoes that have just been hanging around on the grill; when else are you going to eat them? After a few minutes there, get your chicken out. Place the butterflied bird, skin side down, on the hottest part of the grill and lay your brick right on top of the chicken. Cover the grill and set your timer for 12 minutes.

At about minute 4, after you've prepared some asparagus (tossed some spears in the garlic/rosemary/olive oil pan that the chicken was sitting in), check in on the dog, who is probably being cute somewhere in the house. Notice he's not in his usual resting spots of your bed or the guest bed, and that the house has been very quiet for the last half hour. See the cat, sleeping on the couch. Check. But the dog is definitely not in the house or the yard, and that should be starting to cause some significant concern.

At this point, you are at minute 6 or 7 and you should probably put some real shoes on instead of the flip-flops you're wearing from the pedicure you got an hour ago. Also, you probably don't know what to do about the chicken at this point. There's nothing you can do, you have to go find the dog. Go across the street to the school yard and call him for awhile. See some teenage boys playing basketball and ask them if they've seen him; they will have not. Go over to your neighbor's, who is having a bbq with friends, and ask him. He has already brought the dog back once today, which is unusual because the dog never escapes from the yard, ever, and now he's done it twice in one day. Panic a little bit. This is your dog, your boy. He's the only good thing in your life. Who can you call? Should you call the ex, who was once his master? No don't. Who can help you? Go back home in case the dog has suddenly returned. Notice that the gate to the fence looks secure, but isn't. At this point 12 minutes have passed. Remove the lid from the grill. Remove the brick from the bird. Quickly flip the bird and move away from the direct heat. Grab your cell phone and get in your car. Realize that the heritage breed bird is ruined and that will either make a good story if all of this has a happy ending, or you will never grill anything or eat chicken again if it doesn't. Curse yourself for not having air in your tires because a bike would be the best way to look for the dog. Call a neighbor, call your close friend, hell, call the ex: he can't help you but you might as well distribute the panic. Roll around the neighborhood for a while, think about the fact that you live 5 blocks from a busy 4 lane thoroughfare and remember the last moment you shared with the dog. Think about how handsome and healthy he is and how anyone with the chance to steal him probably would. You, if you saw an amazing looking dog like Victor wandering the streets with no tags (because they came off), would probably just want him for yourself, wouldn't you? Wouldn't you?

The chicken, at this point, is a lost cause. Right before you head back home because it really does seem pointless to be in a car, remember Mt. Tabor. The dog park. Head to the dog park which is about 8 blocks away. Go into the park and ask a couple of people, but when nobody has seen him, remember that his favorite part is the meadow that is not off leash. Go there. See some teenagers on a swingset and ask them if they've seen a dog. When one of them raises their hand and points over yonder, at that moment, slip on the very steep slope you are trying to walk down and fall on your ass, hard. Be humiliated, and then see about 100 yards away, a 50 lb bird dog, the perfect specimen of wellness, the dog you took hiking earlier that morning, the dog you make homemade fucking food for, playing fetch with a couple of 10 year old boys. The dog will ignore you. After you hear that he followed them from your house to the park, thank them for taking such good care of him while you really want to ask them why didn't they look for his owner. Trudge back to your car holding the dog's collar tightly but not abusively. But firmly nonetheless.

It's now been a good 30 minutes since the chicken went on the grill, maybe more, since you've lost all track of time. Maybe less. In any event, you have no appetite. Think about the obedience training you're going to need to get as you remove the chicken from the grill and put the asparagus over the last remaining hot coals. Rip a piece of the charred wing off the bird before you remember to take a photo. Cook the asparagus until just tender. The potatoes will have ended up absolutely perfect. Smash them with the back of a fork and give them some butter. Cut the spatchcocked chicken in half, lengthwise, and sit down to eat though you are unable to enjoy anything because you're still angry. Notice that the chicken, though yes very dark in places, is actually not dried out. The legs and thighs are still moist. Huh. In any event, eat only the vegetables and leave most of the chicken.

An hour later, your dog should be passed out cold. Go back to the room temperature chicken, which has now become one of the best things you've ever cooked on the grill. Imagine if you turned it over at 12 minutes. You would have ruined it. Occasionally, the dog will stretch, moan, and moisten his mouth, which makes your heart melt. Know that if you go over to him to snuggle, he will growl and nash his teeth; he does not like to be disturbed after 8pm.

No comments:

Post a Comment