Traditional Recipe

One of the two things I cooked for myself in college days was my own invention (a roomate taught me the other so it was less interesting though better). I would purchase my chicken leg (with skin) from the butcher on the corner and bring it upstairs into our narrow little kitchen. The stove was by the window opposite the sink, you could reach one from the other by simply turning around. I’d track down my pot, make sure it was empty, extract the chicken leg from its stiff paper wrapper, and settle it in there for transformation.
Here is the recipe, on which I will now confer the epicurean name it deserves: Jambe de Poulet De L’eau, aka Chicken Leg in Water.
Ingredients –
chicken leg (unwrapped);
enough water, preferably NYC;
hacked up carrots;
spaghetti fragments
salt, often forgotten

Take the chicken leg out of the butcher paper and drop the paper in the sink for later. Avoid touching the chicken, or else wipe your hands on the curtain, which is dingy and already smells (they say you can’t get salmonella twice anyway, and you and your roomies have probably had it already). Excavate your carrots from last week from the back of the fridge. They are now kind of rubbery which makes them easier to hack up in your weakened, hungry condition. Hack however many your roomie didn’t eat while sleepwalking into largish fragments and stick them in the pot on top of the chicken. If you don’t have at least two, you won’t get much veggie credit. However six is too many and turns the stovetop orange when your dinner boils over. Now head over to the tall, spindly cabinets over the tiny wooden countertop and pull down all the open boxes of spaghetti. Find one that actually has some spaghetti in it and shake it onto the carrots being careful to avoid getting roach droppings in there. If you are nice you will throw out the empty spaghetti boxes but if you are mad at your roomies you will put them back on the top shelf. Now add your New York City tap water. Even back in the day, before foodies existed or were (badly) dreamt of, this was considered a quality organic ingredient. Pivot the pot over to the sink, and splash it in generously, you can afford it. Now, pivot the heavily laden pot carefully back to the stovetop and turn on the gas. If the burner clicks unproductively more than three times, lose patience with the pilot and light the burner with a match in an exciting explosion. Go away for at least long enough to head over to the bathroom, pee, and once again take your roomie’s damp nylons off your bath towel and hide them under her mattress. When you come back your Chicken Leg in Water will be boiling enthusiastically. Let this continue until the skin has ballooned on the leg, the carrots are as soft as Jello, and the spaghetti has swollen to the thickness of a drinking straw. Your dinner is now ready to eat, or at least will be in about ten or fifteen minutes when it’s cooled sufficiently to be approached without fireproof gear. Find a biggish, cleanish bowl in the cabinet (but not the keepsake one that belonged to your other roomie’s dead grandma) and dump, but carefully, your pot’s contents into it. If you did this right there won’t be much water left and the spaghetti will be fat, mysterious, and yellow. The chicken meat is very relaxed and slops easily off the bone, which you can gnaw after everything else has gone down. Hope you remembered the salt! If you did, this is so good that you won’t leave a speck for the roaches. Or the roomies.

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