Rotisserie chicken is a great invention, and putting them in warming trays near grocery checkouts is a brilliant marketing strategy. Cooked, in a choice of flavors (barbecue, lemon pepper, original, “savory”), aromatic, ready to eat, easy meaty protein, yet also comfort food — no wonder it was one of the first things to go at the Walmart Neighborhood Market in my ‘hood the day after Christmas, when our hundreds of households were among the 265,000 in Arkansas without electricity.
I got one a few days later, after power was restored. The first serving was the simplest and easiest possible: a leg and thigh as soon as I got home, torn warm and laid on a plate with some other tan foods, eaten like a barbarian with my hands.
The thing about a rotisserie chicken, though, is that its peak of promise may be when it’s all bright and warm in its steam-moistened package under the lights. The next serving was a sandwich of cold sliced breast meat on wheat bread, buttered, the way Mom made them. The rest of the meat got picked clean and added to a leftover melange of black beans, rice, and corn. Picking cold chicken from a carcass is different from that first falling-off-the-bone ease. The meat is firmer, reluctant; the juices have coagulated into jelly; the suppleness of the bones is gone.
So to get every penny’s worth of that inexpensive chicken, all that scraggly nakedness went into a saucepan with some water, and got boiled, and boiled down to a quart and a cup’s worth of chicken essence.
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On the day I was making stock, I was also taking stock. No doubt many of us do that this time of year, with the old year gone out the back door and the lock turned behind it, the new year just over the threshold, still slipping off its coat.
To keep going, follow me over to Art House America.