Thermal Control

The first Sunday in October was clear and blue-skied.  And more than a little chilly.  It might have been the Christmas-themed movie we finished watching during lunch, or maybe the breeze that had blown away Saturday’s rainclouds, but by late afternoon the yard-clearing was done and we were both thinking thoughts of getting warmer.  We headed for the garden center to buy firewood.

I’ve used pre-packaged firelogs for some years–the sort that are mostly compressed sawdust–and liked their convenience, but not the high cost or chemical smell. Even the “environmentally friendly” versions stunk up the place pretty badly. The garden center offered us a great price on half a cord of seasoned logs, which I hoped meant that they had been left to dry for a long while, and not sprinkled with oregano and cumin. They even keep most of the wood “on file,” so to speak, letting us bring home a few at a time as we choose to. We took one-tenth of our order and headed happily for home, stopping at the market for a few groceries.

The broiler-fryer chickens we’d been looking for were back in stock and on sale.  We bought one and had visions of a lovely evening: a roaring fire and a chicken roasted on a bed of chopped vegetables.

The house smelled delicious, but nothing was quite working.  However much kindling we added, the logs were getting singed but not catching flame.  And dinner was nowhere near ready. At 10 PM, I portioned the chicken, putting the legs and thighs back into the oven and slicing the breast meat for a quick finish in a sauté pan.  The fire was a lost cause.

I got fiercely cranky during the whole endeavor–a grown man who can’t build a proper fire or cook a chicken?  Fortunately, only one of us has a meltdown at a time. She tried to lighten my mood, but wisely tempered her efforts when it was clear I wasn’t ready to laugh at the situation. Eventually, with enough edible food to make dinner a viable option, I calmed down. Last-of-the-season corn isn’t as plump-kerneled as earlier ears, but it was deliciously sweet. The vegetables had been abundantly doused with chicken drippings. The chicken itself was tender and flavorful, finally. And pumpkin-spice cake from a recipe she’d found on Pinterest was a sweet and spicy finish, if not necessarily one that will go into heavy rotation in our repertoire.

From now on, we’ll roast chickens that are already portioned, or perhaps learn to butterfly them for faster cooking.  We’ll either start earlier when preparing a big Sunday dinner, or we’ll plan an easier menu.  And, until the logs season a little further and we learn a little more about organizing twigs and newspaper and fatwood, we’ll keep an extra afghan on the sofa.

Last-of-the-season corn isn't as plump-kerneled as the earlier ears, but it was deliciously sweet.  Roasted vegetables had been abundantly doused with chicken drippings. The chicken itself was tender and flavorful, finally.

Last-of-the-season corn isn’t as plump-kerneled as the earlier ears, but it was deliciously sweet. Roasted vegetables had been abundantly doused with chicken drippings. The chicken itself was tender and flavorful, finally.

3 responses to “Thermal Control

  1. How frustrating! I have never, ever been let down by Thomas Keller’s recipe on Epicurious. A 3-4 lb chicken roasts in 1.25-1.5 hours. You need to go by the thermometer reading and not color as the insides may still be very slightly pink.

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