Yessir! I lost so much of my virginity today. Let’s see, where do we start. Oh yes. Today I, Monique AKA WatchMiiLose, cut up my very first chicken. Yes, I did. I bought a whole chicken from Whole Foods. I have no idea if it was a fryer or a roaster (Julia would be so disappointed), but it was a whole chicken. When I buy a whole chicken, I cook the whole chicken. Growing up, though, my father always cut up chicken. We never bought chicken parts. I never paid attention to this task. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, I do remember a little bit. My father would first get out this square slate-lookin’ rock type thing. He used it to sharpen the knife. Then he’d cut it up; that’s the part I didn’t pay attention to. Who thinks that when they grow up they’ll be cutting up chicken? Certainly, not me (insert Family Circus cartoon here). Hell, had you asked me a month ago, I would’ve told you then I wasn’t cuttin’ up no chicken. But yesterday something got into me while at WF and I bought the organic, free-range whole chicken. The lady in the video I watched told me this was the cheapest way to buy chicken. And she was right, even organic, free-range. By weight, it’s the best bang for your buck. The catch is that you have to cut that mug up yourself! But I was up for the task!!! Why wouldn’t I be? After all, I did just purchase new knives: Chicago Cutlery. I’m telling you, I was up for the task.

I find an inaugural recipe for the LC braiser. I decide to make Braised Chicken in Coconut Milk. I’m fancy, huh? Nah, not really. The experience was not exactly as I’d hoped. Ok, starting at the beginning. I take my laptop into my itty bitty kitchen and put it in the only open space within my view: on top of the ‘frigerator. I get my cutting board, take the chicken out of the fridge, rinse it off, and place it on the cutting board. I’m ready. I start the video and try to cut up the chicken as she is talking. Impossible. I have to stop the video. Then I get paranoid about touching the laptop (albeit with my fingertip only) because I’ve been touching raw chicken. Ugh. How is this supposed to work again? I watch and I listen carefully and I start cutting. The wings come off no problem. I’m feelin’ real good about myself. The legs come off, again, no problem. I am certain at this point that people have made waaaaayyyyy too big a deal about this whole cutting up a chicken. Then it comes time to cut the thighs. Pop out the joint? Wait, what? Do what? What joint? I don’t feel a joint. Now, what you need to know is that I’m saying all of this out loud. My son’s father is in the living room responding, “Did you find the joint?” I tell him that I did and that I already cut one thigh off but this next one is eluding me. The next thing you know, I’m yelping, “OW!!! OH NO!!!” The lady clearly said to cut AWAY from you. I don’t know what I was doing. I think I was cutting away from my body, but toward my finger. At any rate, I sliced my middle finger on my left hand. Right through the nail. Not a big cut, no stitches needed or anything like that, but it hurts pretty bad. And getting garlic and ginger in it while cooking (yes, even with the band-aid)?! OWWIE!!! I have never cut myself with a knife before. What that tells me is two things: (1) I’ve never owned good knives before and (2) I don’t need to be cuttin’ up no chicken! Eh, life goes on.

After stopping the bleeding and getting a band-aid, I’m back to figuring out how to cut up the rest of the chicken. I’ll admit, she lost me at the breast. I did finally get that other thigh off, though. It’s amazing how easy something is once you’ve already fucked up. I love that about life. But the breast? No idea what she was doing in the video. After I cut it away from all the bones (I guess), I was trying to cut it from the main bone/gristle. I couldn’t do whatever the hell she was doing in the video, so I just got the breasts off the best way I could. It wasn’t pretty, I’ll tell you that. I used half the chicken in tonight’s recipe and I’ll use the other half tomorrow. Rosemary chicken and new potatoes. Yummy old favorite. Asparagus is making an appearance tomorrow. Anyway, I think I passed the chicken-cut-up test. Not with an A, not this time. But I’ll be back.

So I cut up my first chicken. That was only the first first. The second is me and my “little brown bits.” I deglazed a pan for the very first time today! I can’t believe in all these years of cooking, I have never deglazed a pan. I never knew that “stuff” was edible and tasty. Who knew?! I deglazed with the coconut milk by adding just a little at a time instead of pouring the whole can in at once. I was actually amazed at how the brown, burned-looking stuff came off the bottom of the pan. Deglazing is my new favorite thing. Well, along with reducing. that’s the third first. I thought I’d reduced a sauce before, but I don’t think I really have. Not homemade, anyway. I’m notorious for using corn starch or flour to thicken sauces. I’ve never reduced it, and reducing the sauce supposedly concentrates the flavors. This particular recipe lacked lots of flavor. The chicken was good as far as taste and tenderness. Well, ok, to be fair, the recipe was just for the chicken, so that did turn out fine. I threw some frozen broccoli & cauliflower in while the sauce was reducing. And because it was getting late, I threw some Steamfresh brown rice into the microwave. The rice is what was lacking in flavor. Next time I’ll let it cook in the pan, too.

I didn’t have any white wine vinegar, so I used Pomegranate Infused Red Wine Vinegar instead. Oh, also about deglazing, I bought some cheap wines from the grocery store today. Most recipes call for either broth or wine to deglaze. I’ll likely use wine only because I’ve never cooked with it before. I’ve used sherry, but never actual wine. When I got in the store (Kroger), I realized I should have gone to a winery or a liquor store to get the wine. I only drink two wines: White Zinfandel and Moscato. I like Chardonnay, but I don’t buy it. I don’t drink red wine at all, even though I know it’s good for you. I remember my señora would encourage me to drink some with her in the evenings when I studied abroad in Spain. But that was a lifetime ago, and I didn’t keep up that habit here (or any other healthy habits I had there), so, no red wine. Anyway, I realized at the store that I didn’t know what “dry” white wine was. So I did what any self-professed penny-pincher who’s also strapped for time would do: I grabbed two bottles of cheap wine, one red and one white. And they are not just cheap in price, either, the name is something like White Table Wine and Red Table Wine. Yeah, not merlot, not zinfandel, table wine, whatever the hell that is. Of course I rationalized it to myself: what difference does it make? You don’t know what you are doing and you are likely gonna fuck up a few meals before you get it right so get the cheap stuff now and when you step your game up, you can get the real “dry” white and red wines. So stay tuned for that story, because I’m sure there’ll be one!