As much as I wanted My Driver to return home for the weekend, I knew the chances were slim. The best hope was for Saturday night-only. I did tempt him with a butterflied "Mexican style" chicken and I may have threatened and begged and cried a bit. He needs rest in preparation of the event that begins in just a few days, but there is no time for rest because the event begins in just a few days. Dave just wasn't sure if he would be able to get away and it is a two hour drive between Eugene and Portland.
I spent the afternoon at Les Schwab getting new tires and an alignment for our Honda CRV. The Honda is so old and towed so much, this is the third set of tires and I only have 35,000 miles on the odometer (the odometer does not click-over while being towed).
Though I would never be sure if DT was coming home tonight until he walked in the door, there was suddenly a void of emails (that I was copied on) arriving from his computer to mine after 5p. This was a good sign.
I started dinner.
Have you ever butterflied a chicken? Sometimes it is called "spatchcock" chicken. Whatever, the procedure involves cutting out the backbone of a whole chicken to make it lay flat. Even a 5 pound bird requires less an one hour in a hot oven when "spatchcocked". Dave feels a butterflied bird is easier to carve as well... and trust me, DT has carved more chickens than The Colonel.
This is a very good video and exactly what I do when butterflying a bird. Some chefs go an extra step and remove the breast bone, but I find this is usually an unnecessary step. If you are too intimidated to cut the back bone out of a chicken, ask your butcher to do it and watch him, because he will use a knife (not scissors!) and scare impress the heck out of you.And, I must add that this is not a "regular supermarket chicken", but a gorgeous bird from Kookoolan Farms in Yamhill, Oregon (home town of Beverly Cleary - and the county where I was born) just west of Portland in beautiful Oregon wine country. This specimen weighed in at 5.25 pounds and cost $20. The true price of food. I am pretty sure a Foster Farms chicken would be less expensive, but I am pretty sure a Foster Farm chicken would not weigh 5 pounds nor had such a lovely life before having her head cut off. It does not take a minute to cut the backbone from a chicken. This chicken gave her life for our Shabbat meal, and she will live-on all weekend in delicious chicken tacos because I made a Mexican-inspired paste to rub into the skin. I put 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, juice of one lime, 2 cloves garlic, a large handful of cilantro leaves, 2 teaspoons each chile powder, oregano and cumin; 1 teaspoon each paprika, Kosher salt and black pepper in my mini-blender and gave it a good whirl. Then I smeared this mole-style paste all over the bird - front side, back side, and rubbed a little under the skin. Yes, this mess was going to burn char big-time on the outdoor grill. I also made an appetizer plate... which somehow also turned into our salad course because I forgot to make a salad. And freshly baked (by New Seasons Market) Challah.
I heard the garage door at 7:30 and Dave was home! I was so happy. He was so exhausted happy - and he grilled the chicken. Shabbat Shalom. The chicken did, indeed, burn get super extra-crispy on the outside, but the meat was juicy and moist and the flavors from the spice mixture permeated the entire bird. The smoky aroma coming from the grill on our deck attracted the neighbors. Dave also grilled asparagus spears. And, of course, we enjoyed more of those lovely Hood strawberries.
Until my next update, I remain, your home cookin' correspondent.