On Eating and Loving Food

Roasted Ah-So chicken and torture pie

Posted:  Wednesday, February 7, 2018 - 11:15am
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Roast a chicken. It costs somewhere around 6 or 7 bucks for a smallish one, and if you live alone, like I do, you can get a lot of mileage out of it. I love that, mainly because I’m cheap. Even if you have the misfortune of having to share it with someone, you can still squeeze out a couple dinners and a sandwich.

Just kidding about the “misfortune” part, but it’s one thing to share a roasted chicken with someone you like, or love. On the other hand, if you’ve ever had the misfortune of having to share a chicken with some jerk who had no appreciation for good cooking, but ate it for the sake of avoiding starving, you get it. My first husband used to say, after I asked him how he liked some fabulous meal I’d cooked, “It was fine – a gut-filler.”

Okay, so you can get one of those already roasted chickens, often for less than you’ll pay for a raw one, but I prefer to cook my own. Come on people. How hard is it to cook a chicken for god sake. You take it out of the plastic wrapping, dribble some olive oil over it, sprinkle on a little pink salt and some fresh-ground pepper, and throw it in the oven.

A few years ago I discovered that, rather than baking chicken at 325 for a couple hours, I could roast it, at a high temp, in less than an hour. Quicker, tastier, and less dry. (The word ‘moist’ is considered gross these days. Give it a year or so.)

Here’s what Huffington Post has to say about the word ‘moist’: “Hate moist? You’re not alone. … the word moist comes up a lot in our work and, we have to admit, it nauseates us. … the New Yorker’s readers share our disgust. The publication asked its readers to pick a word to be eliminated from the dictionary, and moist was on the top of that list.”

So as I was thinking about roasting a chicken yesterday, I remembered Ah-So sauce. I went through an Ah-So phase a few years ago, and had kind of forgotten about it. Ah-So is an Asian sauce made in New Jersey.

I know. But it’s really good, if a bit scary-looking. It’s a sweet and salty, garlic-y neon-red gelatinous goop that brings spareribs to mind. I wasn’t going to check the label because I was afraid it was full of dangerous substances. But you know me.

The first ingredient listed is high fructose corn syrup. Not exactly healthy, but it’s not like you’re going to eat it daily. The second ingredient is water. Yay. Third ingredient: salt. (Insert trepidatious emoticon.) There are some fermented soybeans in there, but we won’t get into the rest here. As I said, you won’t be eating it every day. And if you have a big glass of red wine with it it will nullify the red dye #3.

Wikepedia says Ah-So sauce is popular in the Northeast United States. Kind of like coffee brandy and Moxie.

Anyway. It is delicious on a roasted chicken. And once I got it in my mind, of course I had to have it. I grabbed a cute little four-pound chicken and went looking for the Ah-So sauce. That small jar full of the gelatinous neon-red substance wasn’t there :-(

But! A little plastic squeeze bottle of it was! New packaging. And right there on the front label was: “No fat. No cholesterol.” (I resisted looking at the ingredients then for fear I’d change my mind.)

I came home, made a manhattan (it was 5:15) and prepared the chicken by simply rubbing Ah-So sauce all over it. I stuck it in a pre-heated 425 oven and sat on the couch with the manhattan, watching “Peggy Sue Got Married,” for like the 10th time. And for the 10th time I cried when Peggy Sue’s dead grandmother called her.

I checked the chicken at around six, then let it rock and roll for another 10 minutes. Better a little overdone than not fully cooked. Here’s a funny little tidbit: A recipe I found on the Serious Eats site said to check the color of the juices. “If they run red, return the chicken to the oven and check it again in five minutes.”

Of course the juices were running red, haha.

Serious Eats also said this: “After 1 hour, remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before carving it.” Then “Carve the chicken and serve.” Don’t you love how recipes include stuff like that? “Carve the chicken and serve.” Duh. What do they think you’re going to do? Stand there and stare at it, hoping it will carve and serve itself?

Anyway, to complete the meal I cooked some jasmine rice and mixed up a bowlful of arugula with dried, sweetened cranberries, crumbled blue cheese, pecan pieces, avocado, and a little of my favorite salad dressing.

After a little research about Red No. 3 I learned this from the Livestrong website: The Food and Drug Administration has approved a total of nine food dyes … Some research suggests that there may be potential health concerns regarding  Red No. 3, but so far the evidence is inconclusive.

Phew. I was afraid I was going to have to forgo the maraschino cherry in my manhattan tonight.

See ya next week!