Friday, June 6, 2008

Potluck Panic

Okay, don't freak out. It's just a potluck.

Oh wait, you're not me. You're probably normal and just like, make some lasagna, or stop at the deli for some cole slaw, or order a freakin pizza, which is what everybody actually really wants. It's just a potluck for your kids' school, and people just want to eat. No Big Deal, right?

Unless you're me, in which case you have to make something that's healthy, organic, delicious, EXCITING, cheap and FUN.

Oh wait, you're reading this blog so you probably are like me, and you are in the same end-of-the-year-induced droning madness of potlucks, which is like family dinner, but AMPLIFIED, because you want it to be delicious and healthy, but you also want it to be something you would want to eat and serve to other grownups, and you also want it to be something kids would want to eat, and you're left sort of floundering and breathless, and you don't make up your mind until the last second, which always fucks up everything.

One of the last potlucks I went to was an ocean of carbs. It was a vast expanse of pasta salads. Carbs, carbs, carbs. (I was no help -- I brought a rice noodle salad.) Someone finally brought a rotisserie chicken, and it was devoured within minutes. I was overseeing the table, but I got a leg when I could and saved it for later. Good thing.

So now when I go to potlucks I think: PROTEIN. I think most people don't want to bring protein because it seems expensive to bring a giant dish of meat. But it's not really true.

Recently, I cut up an organic grass-fed rump roast ($10) into slivers (semi-froze them first, for easier slicing) and made them into shishkabobs and brought rice noodles and lettuce leaves and mint and basil. The rice noodles were tossed in a fish sauce-lime juice-sugar mixture. It was good. Even the kids liked it.

This is them on the grill.

But it was sort of complicated.

Tonight I went for fried chicken. At my coop, organic chicken drumsticks are $1.95/pound. For under $10 I got three packs of 4 drumsticks each. 12 drumsticks. Based on recent potluck experience, I thought: everyone loves fried chicken.

I didn't have a recipe, but in my kitchen, those who don't know, just go ahead and do it.

I brined the chicken for a couple hours in a salt and sugar mixture (1/4 cup each, boiled until dissolved, then cooled and diluted to cover the drumsticks.)

Then I rinsed and dried the chicken with paper towels.

I laid out three bowls: flour, beaten egg, bread crumbs. Everything was whole grain, just because that's how my kitchen is set up. I added a little salt and pepper. Shoulda added more.

First they went in the flour.

Then in the egg, then in the bread crumbs.

Then, into the frying pan. Yeah, baby!

Mmmmm! it was really good. My kids, who have perhaps never eaten fried chicken before, dug in, and so did I. They were gone almost immediately.

Of course, if you don't have an afternoon to spend brining and frying chicken, you could always just stop for a rotisserie chicken.


Lindellica said...

why do you brine the chicken first?

Larissa Phillips said...

When I first went through my brining stage, when I brined EVERYTHING for a while, I realized it helped chicken grill faster. It kind of firms it up.
So I thought it would make sure the chicken cooked through. Sometimes fried chicken is a little... underdone.
But it's totally not necessary.