Trying to cook chicken. June 6, 2019. I have been wanting to have my family over for dinner, but was at a loss for something they might like, that I could cook with my limited equipment. The appearance of a few young Russet potatoes in the souk gave me the “Ah ha!” moment. With these, I can make mashed potatoes. Also, fried chicken does not need to be served hot, so I can cook enough. Green beans are also fine if not real hot. Add some cucumbers and voila, you have a traditional Sunday dinner.
I am not a great cook, but at home I have turned out many meals that make people happy. I have fried chicken many times, but I called my American sister, who makes the best fried chicken since grandma. She gave me the game plan. I implemented the plan perfectly and the chicken looked beautiful. The potatoes and gravy were excellent (but they did not care for those either). But the chicken was extremely tough, chewy and would not come off the bone. It was barely edible. Additionally, they did not like the crispy skin and removed it from all pieces. They told me it was not cooked. Well, it was thoroughly cooked, no blood or pink. All pieces turned repeatedly over a long time. Hmmm. My poor family. They ate bread and fruit, and likely went home and ate again. Not sure if I will dare try again, nor if they would come anyway.
I was reminded of an incident from my youth. We seldom had meat at home, because we did not have the money. We mostly lived on pasta (or rice) with margarine, scrambled eggs, and cheap TV dinners. On Sundays and Tuesdays, we had really great meals when each of my grandmothers cooked for us. But, there was this one time, when my mother got a chicken, which she proceeded to roast. Oh, we were excited, but it too was inedible. Even the cats could not eat it. It turned out to be a “stewing” chicken, a term given to older birds that have already been layers. Normally, we buy “friers”, younger birds.
All my attempts to cook chicken here have been met with marginal success, and even the pieces that I stew stovetop for hours are chewy. Indeed, all the Moroccan women I know cook the chicken in pressure cookers. Can it be that the chickens here are these older birds? The feet were large and dark yellow. Today I am told that they buy them the day before cooking, soaking them in vinegar and salt overnight. Due to all the spices one would never know.