Monday, March 10, 2008

10.0 The Phoenix and the Fowl

Starring Erin, Mike, Adam, Josh & Jim
Filmed on Location in Beautiful Downtown Sellwood
Soundtrack: Your Favorite Songs about Birds

“I gave my love a chicken, it had no bone…”

Quiet now. Easy. Mustn’t make any sudden movements. They frighten easily, these little birds. Yes, YES! There it is! Right on the plate, awaiting its marinade. Yep, chicken again. I’ve been toying with changing the name of this column to “In the Sellwood Chicken.” Still, it’s chicken – you can do a lot with it. And it’s cheap. After all, I write the column pro-bono. Unlike this month’s recipe, which is “no-bono.” Boneless, that is. But more about the recipe later. Let me build up a few paragraphs with my blather.

Tonight’s Sellwood Kitchen is at SK2, Adam & Josh’s house. Tonight’s meal, in keeping with the advantages of home turf, is also Adam’s, or rather, an old family recipe. With both he and Erin at the stove, Josh, my brother Jim (newest resident of Sellwood and Knight of the Short Table), and I drool in the living room.

Meanwhile, Jack the dog is ALL OVER EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME. He’s a lanky fellow. Like one of those Land Striders from “Dark Crystal.” You know what I mean? I feel like a Garthim when I walk through the door. You get that one? I wish there were a few LIVE chickens in here to keep him busy!
I try to keep these articles fairly entertaining. Our Friend Dinners are always fun for us, but I suppose reading about them can be a little dry: We drink wine, laugh, eat dinner, laugh, watch TV, laugh, and everyone goes home. Yet we are not so different from the chicken, are we? Seemingly predictable, its bland even whiteness gives no more than a content nod to our taste buds. Until, of course, the culinary skills of Our Chefs transform this simple bird into a glorious phoenix of tang! I am thus inspired to transform these words on birds from plain copy into a monozygote of literature.

You ever read Harold Pinter? (“No, have you?”) Yes, actually, I have. I started a couple of days ago by devouring a few easy pieces. So I’m an expert now. British playwright, Pinter is, known for complex dialogue, broken by dramatic pauses and silence. I’d like to present a small portion of this piece in the style of Pinter:

I’m always welcome to flip through Adam & Josh’s LPs but the radio seems to provide a suitable condition. I can tell by the crackle and jazz it’s KMHD (89.1 on your FM dial!). The jazz station out of Mt. Hood Community College is the most consistently safe signal on air, but I mean safe in the sense of free from morning talk-show DJs.


Why don’t we have any snacks?


They just play jazz. When someone stops me to ask if I listened to “Mark & Brian” or “Frick & Frack”, I shout a gregarious “Yes!” and pat them on the shoulder as I continue on. Egad! Give me some music! Maybe little news, maybe little traffic and I’m fine. Tonight, however, being Valentine’s Day, the speakers poured sugar-free honey into our laps – a lot of “smooth jazz”, the neutral vanilla of popular music.

I’m not feeling feelings anymore.


So the music fades into the background, and soon into memory. The true music of the night is the laughter – a box set’s worth.


Liverwurst is the poor man’s pate.

And…Scene! Well done. Let’s eat! This is the first time I’ve ever had Chicken Cacciatore. It’s one of those recipes you always hear about but are never served. Like succotash or a$1000 burger.

Adam plates up the first dish. The “display copy” I call it. The one we photograph for the article. Jimmy eats the display copy. It’s almost a double serving. We devour it! The noodles seem plush to Adam. “Teddy bear noodles,” says Erin. “Build-a-Bear noodles,” adds Josh. Modified for our resident gluten-intolerant friend, the meal is a triumph, pleasing to the tongue, easy on the belly. I’m happy to report that olive oil was used in place of the suggested ingredient, which was “hot fat.”

Look, there on the horizon! The reliable chicken transformed, rising in a fireball of hot fat to the heavens! The phoenix reborn! Arcing in a maelstrom of Chinese fireworks towards the brightest stars of Ursa Major, a celestial ladle full of the wine of life!


6 servings Boneless Chicken Breasts and/or thighs
1 Cup of Cooking Sherry
2 Cloves Garlic Chopped
Rice Flour
Salt & pepper
Olive Oil
2 Cups Onion finely chopped
1 ½ Cup of Green Pepper finely chopped
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Parsley chopped
1 ½ Tsp Curry Powder
2/3 Tsp White Pepper
1 ½ Tsp Thyme
Approx 30 Oz Canned Tomatoes
6 Oz Can Tomato Paste

Marinate chicken in mixture of sherry and 1 clove chopped garlic for 2 hours in refrigerator. Remove chicken from sherry. Save marinade. Season with salt & pepper and roll in flour. Fry in oil until golden brown. Re-serve in warm oven. Combine onions, peppers and remaining garlic. Sauté in oil from chicken until tender, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 tsp salt, pepper, curry powder and thyme. Add tomatoes, paste and parsley. Stir in sherry marinade. Heat. Pour sauce over chicken, cover and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes. Serve over rice or spaghetti (we went for brown rice spaghetti! It’s a GLUTEN-FREE meal).

The “In the Sellwood Kitchen” cast and crew can be contacted at: