Lope said, “It’s real easy.”
She said she thawed chicken for me, and that while she’s away at her creative retreat in California all I had to do was cut up the thawed chicken and put it in a skillet with some olive oil. She pointed to the olive oil. To season the chicken, I was to use something called “One-Step Chicken,” which I felt privileged to even know about, like I’d been let in on some special culinary secret.
“One step, eh? I see… so that’s how you’ve been doing it all this time.”
“Yes,” she said, zipping her backpack closed. “You shouldn’t have any problems.”
BEEP BEEP BEEP
Is that the phone or the smoke alarm? Do we even have a smoke alarm? Why is it doing this? Ouch!
I’m trying to stir the chicken, but every time I reach in, the popping boiling olive oil burns my hand. I am worried about my metal utensil scraping the Teflon coating off the pan and causing me to unwittingly ingest Teflon. That can’t be good.
The chicken is sticking, despite the olive oil (was I supposed to use this much?) and it’s not changing color evenly. Parts of it look scorched, almost, with sinister black freckles where the One-Step Chicken® seasoning has welded to the surface, while other parts, parts I can’t get to flip over because the chicken is sticking, are still alarmingly pinkish.
The phone rings.
“Yeah, hey, Jake! What’s up? I can’t cook for squat!”
Jake is saying something about copy he needs written for a sales kit that goes out tonight. “Alright!” I say, trying to sound confident, all the while prodding two-tone chicken chunks with a carving fork. “E-mail me the bullet points, and I’ll get back to you in a few minutes! Ouch! I burnt my knuckle!”
Jake asks if I remembered to use one of those mesh screens over the top of the skillet. “Of course!” I lie.
The chicken is shrinking, looking more and more like something they’d hand you on the end of a toothpick at the mall food court, but at least it’s all one color now.
Let’s see, Rice-a-Roni? No…
Lipton noodles? No… only Teriyaki flavor…
Uncle Ben! Chicken and Broccoli flavor! Sweet! I’ll just whip this up and – hey! Fifteen to twenty minutes? What the crap?! This chicken will be microscopic by then!
I am turning on the exhaust fan.
In the end, I ate seven or eight pellets of chicken by itself, with no flavored rice or noodles or anything accompanying it. It tasted like the sort of thing you’d get on a toothpick at the mall, then go back and punch the guy instead of eating at his restaurant.
Oh, and I got droplets of Extra Virgin Olive Oil all over the place, including the shelf above the stove, where it sits.
Next time, I’ll try starting the side dish earlier. And maybe using a lower heat setting. And perhaps driving-thru somewhere, which is just what I’m about to go do now.
Lope, I miss ya.