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Spatchcock Is A Verb

Spatchcock Is A Verb

So, as it turns out, spatchcock is a verb.

Let me back up.

In last week’s post, I mentioned that a big, life-altering event had occurred. My very first issue of Southern Living had crossed the threshold of apartment K14, and I became a new woman. A true Southern lady.

But receiving the magazine was only part of the transition. In order to fully step into my destiny as a Southern woman, I’d actually have to turn the oven on and cook something—an idea that would normally terrify me. Or exhaust me at the very thought.

But holding my rite of passage in my hand, I felt brave and energized.

As I browsed through the list of recipes in the front of the magazine, I glossed over any that included words like “roulade,” “andouille,” and “court-bouillon.”

I was brave, not cocky. I didn’t want to attempt anything I couldn’t properly pronounce.

(I also skipped Fig Dutch Baby Pancake, because I didn’t think I could find any figs or Dutch children on such late notice.)

When I saw Garlicky Roasted Spatchcock Chicken, I thought, “Hey, I recognize most of those words! And I can say all of them! Here’s our winner!”

Now, as only an English major would, I would like to point out that the word “spatchcock” is used here as an adjective. This is important, because I assumed spatchcock was a spice or ingredient that would give the chicken a certain, well, spatchcockiness.

HOWEVER, I was wrong.

These were the first words I read when I turned to page 116 for the recipe:

“Removing a chicken’s backbone—a technique called spatchcocking (or butterflying)—ensures juicy meat and golden crisp skin in less time than roasting a whole bird.”

DOES IT, NOW? Well, isn’t that special?

So, you see, this brings me back to my initial point—spatchcock is a VERB.

Though I did consider the fact that it is 2016, and I could very well buy the chicken sans backbone, I decided that if I was going to this, I was going to play by SL’s rules.

Sunday evening, I unloaded all the groceries, opened the magazine to page 116, and GOT TO WORK.

(I’d tell you how many times I walked back and forth through Publix if I hadn’t lost count.)

(There was one guy working the produce section who, I’m sure, was looking at me with more than a little suspicion as I made my third trip through the vegetable aisle.)

First instruction: “Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.”

Okay, I can do that.

Click.

Look at me, cooking and being an adult. Alright, what’s next?

“For step-by-step instructions on how to spatchcock a chicken, turn to page 132.”

I do indeed need step-by-step instructions, Southern Living, thank you!

Flip, flip, flip. Page 132.

Here we go.

“Place a whole chicken breast-side down on a cutting board.”

It should be noted that, up until this moment, I hadn’t thought about the reality of touching the chicken barehanded.

Oh, gross. Gross! GROSS! I can feel its bones. No, no, no, no, NO! Aw, it looks so sad and scared, all curled up like that. I feel so bad! Am I crying? Maybe a touch. Elizabeth, get yourself together! It’s dead. You can’t kill it again. PLACE THE BIRD ON THE CUTTING BOARD.

“Starting at the thigh end, cut along one side of the backbone with kitchen shears. Repeat on the other side to remove the backbone.”

Okay, thigh end. I have the shears. Just need to cut. OH, NO! THAT BONE CRACK! GROSS.

Crack. Gross. Crack. Gross. Crack. Gross.

“Freeze and reserve for stock.”

For stock? I have to keep this thing? No, sir. I don’t think so.

Oh, no! Its heart is going to be inside. I can’t look! I’m going to cry again. I feel like such a monster right now. I DID NOT THINK THIS THROUGH.

Wait. Why is there a bag in here? Why would you pull the insides out, stick them in a bag, and PUT THEM BACK INSIDE? Who did this? That is so dumb. I’m not putting that in a stock either. No, thank you.

“Flip the chicken over so that it’s cut-side down. Then firmly press on the breastbone to flatten it.”

Flatten it. Well it looks pretty flat already. I think this is as good as it’s going to get. Back to page 116.

Flip, flip, flip. Page 116.

Alright, where were we?

“Using the heel of your hand, press firmly against breastbone until it cracks.”

No, no. Page 132 mentioned only flattening, NO CRACKING. Ugh, okay. I’ll do it. If SL says so, I’ll do it. Until it cracks. 

Crack.

Okay. Okay! OKAY. Hard part’s over. I can do this.

And I did.

I knew I was okay when I shot the headless hen a double finger gun and said, “Looking good.” When you start talking to your poultry, you know you’ve moved away from being emotionally invested in its past life on the farm.

The grand finale was indeed pretty grand. It looked similar to the picture in the magazine and tasted delicious.

I told you this magazine would be a turning point for me. See for yourself. 

BEFORE:

Doesn't she look like a sassy lady with her hands on her hips?
Doesn’t she look like a sassy lady with her hands on her hips?

AFTER:

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All dressed up for the ball.

BONUS: voicemails I left my mother during this whole process.

“Ugh, it just squeaks!”

“I should’ve started with mashed potatoes! Why didn’t I start with mash potatoes?! And my arm is sticky okay call me back thanks bye.”

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The Newest Member of the Southern Ladies’ Club

The Newest Member of the Southern Ladies’ Club

Two weeks ago, something big happened. Something major. Life-changing.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you may be thinking, “Yeah, yeah, Elizabeth, we know. You found the laminating machine at work and someone showed you where the good snacks were hidden. Big deal.”

And while that is true, and those were VERY BIG DEAL THINGS, this thing is bigger. Better. More spectacular than even the laminating machine.

*collective gasp (because how could anything top a laminating machine?).

It was just an ordinary Monday. I had gone to work as usual, unaware of the life-changing event that was happening just outside my apartment door.

I wonder if the mailman knew. I wonder if he could feel the heaviness as he placed the glossy pages inside the tiny tin can that is also referred to as my mailbox. Judging by the way it had been neatly nestled into the small compartment, I bet he did.

At six o’clock, I pulled into my complex, wrestled my stuff out of the car, and stopped casually by the mailbox on my way to the apartment. I stuffed the key in the lock, turned, pulled, and there it was.

For the first time in my life, this showed up addressed specifically to me.

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My mother ordered the subscription for me a month ago, and now that it’s here, I have carted it delicately all over the apartment, careful not to bend even a single page.

If I weren’t so dead-set on keeping it intact, I would tear off the cover and laminate it.

For as long as I can remember, there have been stacks of Southern Living magazines on coffee and bedside tables, stuffed on shelves, and piled in baskets next to couches and chairs. Nearly an entire shelf of my mother’s cookbook collection is dedicated to Southern Living’s annual hardback compilations of their best recipes. The rest of the space on that shelf is inhabited by the mother of all binders, stuffed with torn pages and cut-out recipes that were disconnected from their original binding, gently pushed behind page protectors and inserted into a system only Charman Brock can understand.

And when the controversial new binding was instituted several years ago, our house was not left untouched. There were rants and threats of letters to the new editor who had the audacity to change the binding and add a series of fashion articles to the publication. How dare he! This was a home and cooking magazine, not an issue of Vogue, for crying out loud.

But still, the subscription continued to show up. In the mailboxes of both of my grandmothers. In my mother’s. Now, in mine.

And I have to tell you, I am SO EXCITED.

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My mother’s reaction to this glorious occasion. Notice the emojis.

I am an official Southern lady.

(It really should come with a card and a certificate of authenticity.)

Admittedly, I have a long way to go. I know this because the first dish I saw that looked both delicious and achievable turned out to be an ad for dog food. Great looking dog food, but dog food nonetheless.

Even so, I believe that this may be the turning point for me. Despite my string of terrible cooking experiences, the ghosts of soupy pies, hopelessly misread cookie recipes, and the vivid memory of a toaster on fire, I am feeling boldly optimistic.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to make a grocery list. I may not know exactly what “spatchcock chicken” is, but I’m ready to find out.

To be continued…

 

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