Special “I miss my sister; Venn diagrams channeled through
Robert Delaunay’s “Joie de Vivre” edition”.
Not since Sir Sidney Poitier’s critically acclaimed 1980 dramatic psychological thriller “Stir Crazy”, has a bird suit made such a satisfying impact on a beer & sausage buzzed audience. Conceived as homage to a beloved sister’s visit, and executed with antique culinary showmanship, the occasion provided an opportunity to challenge the deceptively handsome, technically demanding variety of galantine de volaille en chaud-froid.
John McEnroe experienced the same daunting rivalry on a conceptual English putting green in the late 1970’s against prodigal heart-throb fashion doll Björn Borg. As with any other seemingly dreamy, follicular tête à tête sporting snug 3” inseams and terrycloth headbands, tempers are likely to flare, more so when the senior competitor’s enviable golden locks, soothing turquoise eyes and frighteningly consistent strokes stoke the coals of a defeated tantrum.
Cool has been lost on several occasions, when firm temperament put the motherfucking kibosh on the occasional shittiest pastry and aspic known to humanity. However, failures gradually shifted towards winnings, the equilibrium payoff of improved theory & practice, eventually ensuring results well within the margins of success, awesomeness and horny girls’ adoration column. A veritable cootie-catcher of inevitable victory permutations, though a winningest champion who has built an epic career trademarked by sang-froid and imperviousness to stress will have a melt-down for the fans when absolute perfection is not achieved, affirming that even a master craftsman invariably blames his tools.
Sister was in town for a brief visit from Notsofunnyland and nothing more than the be all end all of hopelessly dated grandiose E-coli-free chicken whimsy would fit the bill for making her visit worthwhile (fostering Mr. Cuddlesworth notwithstanding), though mustard green sausages were an enticing opening act.
Chicken was obtained from a reputablish Latin grocer in exchange for currency and a genuine appreciation for meringue music. Extremities were lopped off, the skeleton ripped out with a forceful hand à la Predator, stock made with said bones, bla-bla-bla, same ol’ song and dance. Eviscerated bird was brined in a 3% salt brine (1.5% sugar, aromatics).
Forcemeat was made from pork, chicken trimmings, its offal, fatback, pistachios, figs, foie gras & truffle mousse scraps, Muppet tenderloins, Dutch Guilders, and a rose of a different name. Pork and chicken trimming were ground twice and supplemented by an egg puréed with the bird’s liver. Seasoning and curing salt was measured by the weight of the forcemeat and its garnishes using a sextant, just like Shackleton did on his way to South Georgia island fromElephant Island. No small feat, especially in a windowless basement.
After stuffing and trussing the creature, it was launched into the stockpot (gooseneck –fade away) and left to simmer until the inside reached 160ºF. Took a long time. Didn’t want to boil too hard as I was afraid the skin and remaining bones (wings and drumsticks) would fall apart. It was left to cool in the stock and then refrigerated while the chaud-froid was fabricated. A white roux was cooked, heated stock whisked in, gelatin added, strained, cooled, tasted and tested for strength. After an extreme (look out, Dan Cortese) coating of chaud-froid, excesses and cosmetic imperfections were melted away with extremely gentle wafts of heat from a butane torch. And of course the ubiquitous fluted mushrooms, whittled turnips and brightly glazed radishes.
Sister has an affinity for Venn diagrams, an appreciation of which would inspire the decoration. The brightest natural colors and workable textures are extracted from bell peppers. The pepper are carefully selected by shaking them like maracas to see if they have any loose change in them, boiled, peeled and cut to specifications, in this case a variety of overlapping circles which would also, coincidentally, suggest the “joie de vivre” painting by French abstract artist Robert Delaunay, whose nationality we all share (with tremendous, fiery enthusiasm). Look too close and you might get hypnotized and crap sideways for a week. Seriously.
After attentively adorning the critter with deliberately alternative, meticulously cut anit-Mondrian colored discs, the thing was given a proper shellacking of aspic followed by the butane torch once-over to smooth out any unsightly bulges.
Overall, the chaud-froid could have used more salt and the forcemeat could have benefited from more aggressive cooking. Slow cookery may have made the forcemeat mealy rather than firm, giving it a somewhat unpleasant texture. The chicken itself was delightful as far as poached chicken goes. While not a championship win in straight sets, it was a respectable qualifying endeavor. Notes have been taken and the tapes have been studied. Training is under way for summer’s 2.0 galantine; special argyle rainbow chard edition.