Erotically Delicious

It’s erotic! And delicious! It’s Fifty Shades of — Chicken!?!

If you haven’t already bought it, I strongly recommend you get Fifty Shades of Chicken, by F.L. Fowler (even the author’s pseudonym is a parody). It came out just before Christmas last year, but somehow, I missed seeing it in the stores. And that’s a shame, because I have never laughed so much while reading a cookbook in my life.

Mr. (?) Fowler’s work is both a cookbook (with fifty recipes for chicken dishes) and an homage/parody of, obviously, Fifty Shades of Grey. In this tribute, we are treated to the story of Shifty Blades, a successful and restless chef, and Miss Chicken, a naive, organically-raised fowl who literally falls out of the refrigerator and lands at Shifty’s feet, tempting him with her firm, ripe flesh. After some confusion on the part of Miss Chicken, and Shifty’s avowal that Miss Chicken is too good for him, Shifty and his hen end up engaging in an elaborate dance of food porn.

Fowler perfectly mirrors the Grey books with a breathless, tongue-in-cheek tone to the narrative, slyly poking fun at our obsession with the sexual exploration themes of the Grey trilogy. Shifty ties, stuffs, massages and so on his Miss Chicken, all while conducting a running commentary on his actions. Miss Chicken, in turn, engages in internal monologues about Shifty’s intentions toward her and her reactions to his ‘handling.’ Just like the characters in the Grey series — only one’s a chicken and the other an inventive chef.

The book is structured so that each recipe is introduced by a short passage describing the, ahem, ‘interaction’ between chef and bird. Some of these passages are brief, others a full page long, but all are ridiculously funny. Picture a roasting chicken screaming her ‘safe word’ because she’s overheating.

It would have been so easy for this book to have slipped into over-the-top absurdity; instead, it’s carefully balanced — hilarious without being too ridiculous.

And it’s not just the story that’s good, the recipes appear to be quite tempting as well. (Literally tempting — Fowler carries the double entendres into the cooking intructions.) I’ve tried out two so far — a horseradish-marinaded roast and chicken chili. They were both quite tasty (there was no left-over chili, which considering I made a double batch to feed only four people is pretty astounding). Since I’m eating healthier, I can see I’ll be trying out most of these recipes over the coming months.

Throughout their ‘relationship,’ developed over the course of fifty recipes, Shifty and Miss Chicken must deal with some speed bumps in the form of a snooping, blackmailing cookbook publisher and Shifty’s unhealthy obsession with that hussy, Julia Childs. In the end, though, bird and cook are united in deliciousness and cookbook fame. And because of both the interesting recipes and the screamingly-funny story, this cookbook earned rare praise from me — it’s become only the eighth cookbook that I actually own. I can foresee a long, and hopefully satisfying, partnership with it.

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Sausage and potato soup

Autumn and winter are my favorite seasons, in part because of one word.

Soup.

I adore soup.  A few simple ingredients can be turned into something warm and nourishing and comforting on those dark, cold evenings.  The cooking process is muss-free — depending on the recipe, you might have to saute an item or two (onions, meat) before tossing in the rest of the ingredients, adding water and settling back to bask in the scent.  30 minutes, maybe a bit longer and you have a wonderful meal served with a nice crusty bread.

Our weather in Philadelphia has been all over the map — 40 one day, 20 the next and 60 over the weekend.  Tonight, after hearing about snow flurries in the forecast, I decided, spur of the moment, that I wanted some soup.  Checked out the pantry, and the fridge, and voila!   

Recipe number one in Eating Out the Pantry:  Sausage and potato soup. 

I bought this wonderful sausage mix from Whole Foods around the holidays — pork-base with basil and garlic.  Ingredibly fragrant — even through the freezer bag, you could catch hints of the garlic.  I was going to use it as the base for a bean soup, but the sausage seemed like it could carry a recipe on its own. 

And it did.  I had to remind myself of my eating healthy resolution to keep from pouring out a second bowl.

Sausage and potato soup:

1 & 1/4 pounds pork sausage (garlic and herb)

1 medium onion, chopped fine

2 carrots, peeled, halved and sliced thin

4 cups chicken broth

1-2 cups water

8 small potatoes, washed, quartered and sliced (peeled if you want)

2-3 peppercorns, crushed on a teaspoon

Cook the sausage over a low heat (to prevent burning); drain off any excess renderings from the pot.  Add onion and carrots, saute for a couple of minutes until the onions are translucent.  Pour in the broth and 1 cup of water, lower heat to simmer and then add the potatoes. 

When the potatoes are half-cooked, toss in the peppercorns and continue simmering until the potatoes are done to your desired state of mushiness (some people like the potatoes in their soup to be falling apart; I prefer them more solid).  Since potatoes suck up moisture (broth and water), you may need to add another 1/2 cup or so if you want your soup to have enough broth.  Or you could let the mixture alone and have a stew!

If you had to substitute for the sausage, you could probably use a regular pork sausage, then add in at least 4 minced large cloves of garlic, and probably 2-3 tablespoons of basil. 

No need to add salt; the sausage had enough.  Nicely spicy.  Use a good crusty French or Italian bread to soak up the broth from the bowl.