Chicken Nerdvana

Disclaimer!

Okay, all you heart-ridden Valentines boobies. Listen up. There will be none of that Hallmark rubbish in this little corner of the Internet today. It will be business as usual here, which means at least one dubious joke about genitals, a picture of something in my only good serving bowl, and a couple of pop-culture references that are hopelessly out of date, which just illustrates how direly out of touch I am.
Right. Carry on.

This how how they should have taught me topography at school

While some people might say ‘let Jesus take the wheel’, I’m usually more comfortable when my wheel is being taken by a 15th-level Barbarian with a Greatsword +5.

And by ‘wheel’ I don’t mean…okay never mind.

Surprise. I can be a gigantic raging nerd sometimes, but here’s the thing; the older I get the less inclined I am to hide it. Back in the day, it was a one-way ticket to getting either my head stuffed down a toilet or having to lick a door handle, but these days it’s a totally viable alternative to, like…having children. Or pets. Or a job.

I mean, in a world where pushing a ‘like’ button on the bajillionth picture of a cat doing something cute can be passed off as a legitimate way to spend one’s free time, I feel I can be totally left alone to read books that have wizards with pointy hats on the cover and play boardgames that require me every now and again to say something like: “Agarthan the Bard casts Flaming Hands at the Orc leader.” You know?

Better than scraping clean the grouting in the guest-shower I say.

So, when about two weeks ago I stumbled onto this:

aaaaah.....choirs of angels choirs of angels choirs of angels

…there was absolutely no way I was going to leave it there for some sweaty fifteen year-old to buy for his friends to touch (sweatily), rather than me buying it for mine (look, we’re just as sweaty, but the reason for that is all the expensive drugs we take, not pre-teen slime). So I pushed aside the gaggle of rank, shiny kids who were trying to pool R10 notes and some guy who swore he could remember the numbers off his mom’s credit card, and got that thing in a plastic bag and into my car before any of them knew what hit them.

It’s like bullying, just with money.

The nice thing about playing these types of games when you’re (slightly) more grown up. Is that the catering is always a lot better. For one thing, we can drink whiskey now, and our perception of what makes a legitimate party snack has progressed beyond “I don’t really care, as long as its got melted cheese on it.”

For example, as a kid, our gaming menu was always inevitably something along the lines of:

Soya mince bolognese.
Cheese Curls (or, Cheese Hurls as we thought we were so clever calling them)
Coke (a cola, not the other kind)
Unfathomably sweet tea and Marie biscuits.
Scully and Mulder impressions.

So, because people need to eat when they’re locked in a death-struggle for the Iron Throne (and I mean something other than the flesh and blood of their enemies), some wine was thrown on the table, a pot and pan or two were theatrically rattled in the kitchen, and people happily got their fantasy ass-kick on.

Chicken Nerdvana (adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe in the 2011 round-up edition of his magazine)

This recipe makes truly the best sauce ever, and the use of the limes really does give it a fantastically fresh zing which I reeeally like.

"I think I can I think I can," said Jono's one good serving dish.

Ingredients


a whole chicken, cut into pieces
1 large carrot, chopped up
1 large stick of celery, chopped up
1 large red onion, chopped up
1 large handful of button mushrooms, quartered
A splash of olive oil
1 large bunch of thyme, bound up with string
500 ml of chicken stock
1 glass of white wine
5 bay leaves
1 knob of butter
2 egg yolks
40 g of flour
1 cup of cream
The juice of one lime
2 tbsp dried tarragon
Salt
Pepper

What to do


Heat some olive oil in a pan, season your chicken pieces with a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper, and brown them until golden. Set aside on a plate lined with paper towel to drain off the excess oil.

Pour some of the olive oil and chicken juices from the frying pan you’ve just used into a fresh, large pot, heat and add the celery, onion and carrot. Fry it all up until soft and fragrant – which should take about five minutes or so. Then pour in the wine and vigorously simmer that off until about reduced in volume by half. Now bung in the thyme, the mushrooms and the bay leaves, stir it up and let that simmer for another ten minutes. Finally add the chicken pieces and the stock, reduce the heat so that it settles into a gentle bubbling, and leave it for an hour.

Once that’s done, remove the pot from the heat and strain out the liquid into a bowl to set aside (you can also fish out and throw away the thyme at this point, it’s done it’s job). Gently heat the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and quickly stir together. When it’s just foaming and starting to bubble, mix in the liquid from the chicken that you’ve strained out. Whisk it up and let that roll for ten minutes or so until silky.

While that’s on the go, whisk together the two egg yolks with the cream and then sprinkle in the dried tarragon. Combine this with the chicken liquid mix, stir it up good and proper, and as a finishing kick, add the lime juice. Season to taste, then pour over the chicken pieces and vegetables. Top with a bit of chopped parsley if you fancy, and serve it with potatoes and crusty bread to a room full of hungry nerds doing this:

This is what slaughtering your cowardly enemies looks like at my house on a Sunday.
Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Chicken Nerdvana

  1. 1. Laughed all the way through this post. 2. I TOO have only one good serving bowl! 3. I’m on book 4 of the Game of Thrones series and finally realizing just how much I hate Cersei. 4. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll ever progress past not caring what my snack is as long as there’s melted cheese on it. It’s MELTED CHEESE. I’ll keep checking back – love your writing style!

    1. Excellent! Can I tell you the funny thing about me and Game of Thrones? Despite being a huge fantasy nerd, I somehow missed the books (they weren’t really big in South Africa for some reason…), and so only got exposed to it through the show. And the experience of watching it and having *absolutely* no idea where it was going to go or what might happen next was so compelling, I’ve vowed to only read them after the series is finished, in order to preserve that experience.

      Hence the boardgame.

      I agree actually. There is no experience so great that it can’t be improved by melted cheese. And that actually includes melted cheese.

  2. I thought I liked you until you mentioned loving books with pictures of wizards with pointy hats on the cover. Now I just love you. You make me miss home. (Which, to be fair, is actually pretty easy at this point. Mention of a ten rand note is sufficient.) You also make me wish I had friends who would play Game of Thrones with me and eat my chicken as they do it, (they won’t, they have to have the kids in bed by 7,) or at least have a friend who could write about playing Game of Thrones and feeding people chicken. It was a morning well spent reading your blog. Thank you!

    1. This is the nicest thing anyone has written on my blog in a very long time, and so – thank you for that.

      Ah yes, my brigade of nerd-friends. I do love them so and am (selfishly of course) grateful that not too many of them yet have kids and things like that to distract them from the real priorities of life. You know, like taking over Westeros.

      Yes, missing SA does tend to creep up on one in funny ways. And now our money has Nelson on it, which makes those ten rands even more poignant.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s