Sunday, September 27, 2009

Coq au Ick

I like to consider myself a good cook. Albeit, I need a recipe, no, 'whip it up off the top of my head' here, but I am able to follow a recipe with often delicious results.

Luckily, the Engineer will eat pretty much anything and often praise me. Once I attempted meatloaf.  This was a disaster.

Firstly, it's meatloaf.  I mean really.  The staple of the 50's housewife?  I made a three-layer torte with handmade chocolate crust last Thanksgiving, I think I can handle this.  I know it's not 'gourmet' per se, but I wanted to make a wholesome meal complete with creamy mashed potatoes and peas.

Several things went wrong.  

Number One: my mum was away in England.  You might wonder how this complicated matters.  Well, I like to talk to her when attempting recipes.  And seeing as I was attempting her meatloaf, I needed her help.  Who did I talk to instead?  My dad.

Sure, dad should be able to handle meatloaf.  He told me that he made a really good meatloaf the day after my mum left.  So he gave me instructions.  And his secret weapon:  salsa.

This should have been easy.  I followed the directions to a T.  But not only did my loaf not stick together - so it became 'meat roughly held together in a loaf pan'  - but it refused to cook in the centre.  The outside was getting dry and burnt, but the middle refused to cook!  Curses!

The Engineer ate around the raw beef, bless him, and told me it was good.  I was nearly in tears.  I did not eat my own disaster.  Sometimes I think the Engineer should be a bit more discerning, after all, he was upset that I threw the offending uncooked beef away.  Really Engineer?  You would eat uncooked beef?

Anyways, upon my mother's return she apparently got upset with my dad.  "HOW could you teach her how to cook a meatloaf when you can't cook one yourself?"  The drama.

Anyhoo, my meatloaf is not the point of this entry.  It's my Coq au Vin.  Otherwise known as Coq au ICK.

The Engineer has a ton of frozen chicken thighs, so it is my mission to use them.  I decided it was time to try this time honored recipe.  I chose my standby Martha Stewart because not once has this lady failed me.

I followed the recipe.  But I should have followed my instincts.

Firstly, it called for chicken livers.  This idea disgusted me.  I must admit that I cannot eat strange animal organs.  It just grosses me out.  I can eat them disguised as yummy pate, but not as blatant organ.  

I was going to do this recipe right though.  I ordered 8 slices of delicious smoked bacon (read: expensive) and then asked for a chicken liver.  The meat man smiled and asked what I was making.  I told him.  He asked if it was because of the 'Julie and Julia' movie.  The nerve!  Most certainly not, I retorted, I simply adore French cooking.  

Fine, I was sort of inspired by the movie to find my inner-French cook but that is neither here nor there.  I was using a MS recipe after all.

He pointed to the livers.  I think I actually threw up a little in my mouth.  But felt I should honor the recipe.  I thought that the livers would give the stew a richness, a certain je ne sais quois.  I didn't think they would make me gag.  Listen to your intuition people!  If your stomach says NO chicken livers, DO NOT PUT chicken livers in your Coq au Ick.

My friend little K puts liverwurst into her dishes, from spaghetti sauce to stuffing.  It's remarkably delicious.  It adds this lovely quality that you can't quite put your finger on.  I should have used that instead (which really, is just liver right?).

The recipe also said to let the chicken sit in the red wine overnight.  Done.  Unfortunately, this makes the raw poultry turn a weird shade of purple.  So they look like human organs.  Gross right?

So here I am, cooking away.  The bacon?  AMAZING.  Onions, garlic?  The smell is divine.  But then the addition of the gross-purple chicken and squishy liver?  Oh god.  The smell.  The colour.  The horror.

The Engineer, bless his heart, ate two servings.  Then he said, 'It's not so bad if you can't smell it'.  Great. 

I couldn't even eat it.  The flavor was all wrong, the colour, so gross, and the knowledge that bits of organ floated around the concoction made me physically ill.

Needless to say, my first attempt at a 'Julie and Julia' night has failed.  My French cooking is getting a 'D'.  I do have a recipe for chicken braised in white wine that I love.  Maybe I should just substitute the wines?  Or should I attempt Julia's recipe?  I know I like Coq au Vin, or the idea of it, but I failed miserably.  

Damn you liver.  Damn you and your horrible smell and texture.  

And yet I love fois gras.  Messed up.

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