Friday, October 23, 2009

Winging It

Today I had a major breakfast failure. And that was just at the beginning of the day.
Apparently “Quick Grits” aren’t that quick. (who knew?)

Of course - I was only too happy to hide behind my "not a Southerner" label for this one.
I boiled water. I put dried grits in each serving bowl. I added the boiling water to the grits. I stirred. I was in a hurry. I didn't want to try and cook grits for 65 all at once (in a huge cauldron I was sure I wouldn't be able to lift off the stove). Instead I opted for the "let soak in the bowl" method.
Apparently they were "gritty".  *sigh*

So it was cold cereal for the masses for breakfast. Horrifying "Golden Grahams" to be exact. I am always reminded of "feed flakes" (see: feeding horses mash) when I see  them (or am forced to eat them).

For lunch today - we were going to have "Chicken and Rice" - once again - not my menu choice. Also? Just like the Mac-n-Cheese I made on Thursday? I made this without anyone giving me a recipe. Although at least today I'd had the luxury of looking at a few on-line recipes (and decided I'd just make my own up because they sounded disgusting).

In the freezer was a box labeled '4-10 lbs bags vacuum packed  boneless/skinless chicken breasts'. I assumed (because I am an idiot and will never learn to DOUBLE CHECK) they were individually flash frozen breasts. In 10 lbs bags. (How reasonable of me, eh?)

The “Vacuum packed chicken breasts”? MMmm-hmm. Not like the individually flash-frozen breasts I had imagined. No – that would be 4-10 lbs bags of ice chicken bricks – all frozen together into one mammoth cube o'frozen chicken. So I couldn't just defrost TWO bags that I needed – but had to defrost all 40 lbs of chicken (for 65 kids under the age of 5 - known to be "big eaters").

Have you tried to defrost a 40 lbs of chicken ice cube? Well - let me tell you. You can start running cold tap water on that sucker at 7:30. At 8:30 when you check it - nothing has thawed. At 9:30 you can (sort of) pry the four bags apart. At 11:00 am? You still have four solid chicken chunked ice cubes. Lunch to be served at noon.

What to do?

Manhandle the chicken (perhaps that's choke the chicken?) with a cleaver. Seriously. I just hacked it onto chunks. With no respect to where one (frozen) breast cleaved unto another. Whack, whack, whack.
Then I called the office and told them lunch was going to be 30 minutes late. (which I thought was pretty f'ing good condisering I only had one 10 lbs cube a quarter cut down at the time.) (I was trying to preserve my fingers. Funny - how attached I've become to them.)

They acted like I'd said lunch would be sometime past 10pm. (idiots)

After I whacked out the frozen chicken pancake slabs - I put them on a parchment covered sheet pan. I roasted them in the convection oven for 20 minutes, turned, and roasted them for another 20 minutes.
Prior to hacking the ice-cubes into pancake slabs - I'd make some rice (rice, chicken broth, water, salt butter) in the oven. But instead of cooking it for the full 25 minutes, I only cooked it for 15. Then I took it out - to await the chicken (in whatever century it decided to become "cooked chicken").
I also sautéed off some sweet onions I'd diced and carrots. In butter. (How could anything with real butter in it taste bad?)

And then there were the sweet potatoes. They were diced (but uncooked) from the Wednesday night dinner (107 people, thank you very much). I'd roasted them with olive oil, sugar, salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and cumin.

For the kids - I didn't think the cayenne would go over so well - so I just did brown sugar (instead of white), olive oil and cumin.

The rice - was very, very moist - 'cause it set for about an hour in the unabsorbed liquid after I took it out of the oven. Into it I dumped the sautéed carrots and onion - and chopped chicken. (That's chicken and rice, right? Oh shut up! You didn't REALLY think I'd use cream of mushroom soup or cream of chicken soup did you?? Think of the poor innocent children!)

And it was FABULOUS. And ONLY a half-hour late. (come on - who the hell else would have thought that quickly on their feet?)

ps: I was forced to use Velveeta in the "homemade" macaroni and cheese. I am expecting child protective service to show up any minute.

pps: (I boiled the elbow macaroni the night before - then just plunged it into boiling water the next day to warm it up.)

ppps: Then I dumped the drained macaroni (after reserving 2 quarts of pasta water) into hotel pans. I added salt, some of the pasta water (built in starch and "natural" thickener) - and the "orange food product that contains no dairy and glows in the dark like nuclear waste while eerily maintaining the texture of silly puddy" - then covered it up and returned it to the oven. I was hoping for ... Armageddon - but unfortunately - it just turned oozy. With stiff resolve, I risked life and limb to stir it. The good news is that if you add a little milk - the day-glo color slightly abates. 

ppps: No one died in the consumption of this product. (I am SHOCKED!)

pppps: (my heart has now shriveled FOUR SIZES SMALLER)

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