I have a group of friends who don’t consider you a real cook until you spectacularly injure yourself in the kitchen.
Nicked yourself with a knife?
Popped with hot grease?
AWWWWW! Poor baby!
But you still don’t qualify.
Stick a knife through your hand?
That’s more like it.
Parboiled your foot?
Slice off the tip of your finger?
NOW YOU’RE TALKING!
My own trip to membership came courtesy of a chicken broiler.
We were feeding about 300 people and it was a four course Italian themed dinner featuring homemade gelato. We were about an hour before dinner was supposed to start and it was time for the chicken to start baking.
“I can’t get this to stay lit.” said my second in command.
“That thing.” she waved towards a corner.
It’s not that the broiler was old. Saying this broiling oven was old was like saying Methuselah was a teenager. I am sure it was state of the art in, say, 1920, but it stopped being such about the time Hitler invaded Poland. We had been forced to use it as all of the other ovens in the kitchen were being used.
Jules kept the kitchen crew working while i tried to get the great white whale lit.
I tried the knobs but despite the fact that the ignitor kept clicking, nothing happened.
Gas valve on?
Pilot light lit?
Ah, that looks like the problem!
I pressed the ignitor again. Nothing. Again. Nothing.
Kneeling down, I look down to where the pilot light stuck out of the side of the chamber. Rust seemed to have taken over. I reached way back into the chamber and scrubbed it with a little brillo pad. Then, hit the ignitor.
Damnit! We were starting to get closer to the beginning of dinner and the first course was already being plated. Luckily, the chicken was the final course but we still needed to get it started and soon!
I press the ignitor and nothing again. It must be broken.
“Where are those damn matches?” I yelled out.
Someone handed me the kitchen matches. I lit one and leaned down and —
My only warning was the bright flash as the gas ignited. I shut my eyes as the world suddenly grew very warm.
Standing up, I knew something was wrong as the entire kitchen staff had turned to me and were staring with open eyes and mouths vaguely reminiscent of Munch’s “The Scream”.
Grabbing a silver dish to see myself, I noticed that there was no longer any hair on my right arm. I hadn’t shaved that day but you could no longer tell and all of my eyebrows and lashes were gone. The first inch of my hair was missing and even my mustache was smoking.
Everyone was in shock staring at me. Knowing if I panicked dinner would never get served, I snapped my fingers, put myself out and clapped my hand.
“Oven’s lit! Snap to it!”
And the spell was broken.
Dinner went out on time and I put on a hat and stayed in the kitchen as much as possible. Luckily, the hall was lit by candles so no one noticed my bright red complexion or lack of fur.
When dinner was out, I snuck out into the hall and tapped a friend of mine on the shoulder who I knew was a nurse.
“Could you bring the first aid kit to the kitchen? Someone’s had a small accident.”
She followed me into the kitchen and looked around the empty room.
“So who needs help?” she asked.
“Me.” I said, turning.
Munch’s “The Scream” made a quick reappearance. Then, I found out that gelato makes a perfect salve for first degree burns.
NOW LET’S DO IT RIGHT!
Parmesan Encrusted Chicken
2 lbs., boneless chicken breast
1/2 cup butter
1 lb. grated Parmesan cheese
Melt the butter in a small sauce pan.
Mix the spices with the bread crumbs and add half the butter. Place in a hot oven briefly to dry out the bread crumbs. Remove and allow them to cool.
Grate the cheese and mix with bread crumbs.
Keep the oven on and warm it to 350 degrees.
Dredge the chicken breasts in the melted butter and then roll them in the bread crumbs. Arrange them carefully in a shallow roasting pan and place in the oven.
Cook until thoroughly done but make sure not to dry it out. You may wish to brush it with butter occasionally.
COPYRIGHT 2016 Micheal J. Hobbs