I am chicken.  I was chicken, and I will always be chicken. Sure, I never had the desire to jump off the monkey bars, and I have no intention of ever bungee jumping, but I love chicken.  It’s an unsung refrigerator hero.  A weeknight staple or the centerpiece of your next swanky soiree, chicken, is what’s for dinner.

To say I was afraid of my own shadow wouldn’t be true but taking risks was never my bag.  One thing I’ve never been afraid of is chicken.  It’s American’s favorite eatin’ bird, and it’s edged out beef as the most consumed meat, according to the National Chicken Council.  Nugget, strip, breast, thigh, wing, drum or whole, any way you slice it, it’s good, and we Americans will eat it.  Since 1960 our chicken intake has increase more than 200%.

The term, it tastes like chicken, came from chicken. Duh, right? Think about it.  What other flavor is so ubiquitous and lovable?  I’ve never heard anyone say “Try it!  It tastes like asparagus.  You’ll love it!”  Everything, good or bad, always tastes like chicken.  Frog legs – tastes like chicken.  Rocky Mountain oysters or bull balls – tastes like chicken.  Rattlesnake – tastes like chicken.  Case and point.

Give yourself to chicken.  Let it overcome you.  Chicken can be overcooked and dry and disgusting and boring just like any ingredient can be if not properly prepared.  It can also be moist and tender and juicy.

{vegetarians – warning – graphic language ahead}

Whether a cutlet or a whole bird, when cooked right, planets align and angels sing.  A perfectly cooked roast chicken is dangerous.  Ina Garten guarantees engagement with her roast chicken recipe – if you don’t want a ring on it, watch out single ladies.  There’s something cathartic about pulling apart a hot, roasted chicken.  Whether homemade or rotisserie, eating a whole chicken with your bare hands is almost sensual.  Fat dripping from your fingers and bits of chicken meat under your nails make the experience gross and amazing.  Sometimes when devouring a whole chicken this way, you can go into a trance, look down and the whole damn thing is gone.  It happens.  Believe it.  Try it.

Chicken has always been what’s for dinner.  2018 may be the year of beef; we’re on pace to eat more beef than ever, but chicken is still king.   There’s even a recipe that formally crownes chicken king – chicken a la king.  I don’t see beef wearing a crown.  Yes, beef stroganoff was the most searched recipe of 2017, according to Google.  That only means people don’t know how to cook beef.  They know chicken.  They cook it.  They love it.  Chicken still reigns.  Hazah!

Like in any good relationship, chicken can piss me off.  For instance, torishashi or raw-ish chicken. Found in some Japanese izakayas and now in some oh-so-fancy U.S. restaurants, chicken is served seared on the outside and still pink on the inside.  No thanks.  My food safety street-smarts says don’t eat this, and I am chicken to try that chicken.  While it’s irksome that chicken does this, microorganisms with the potential to give you the poops or the pukes can live on the outside of raw chicken.  If not properly prepared or cooked, you’ll be headed to the potty.  Like jumping off the monkey bars, torishashi is not a risk I’m willing to take.  I’ll gladly donate my portion to a braver soul; enjoy fearless friends.  Despite how obnoxious it is that chicken can make you sick, I still love it, quirks and all.

I show my love by eating it.  More than I care to admit.  It wets the whistle, if you will, and makes the soul happy.  A blank canvas, chicken is versatile.  While it has a unique flavor that doesn’t resemble rattlesnake or frog, chicken also takes on and highlights other ingredients.  Tomatoes, lemons, mustard, lime, garlic, wine and on and one.  Each enhances chicken’s chickeny-ness.  To say I will tire of chicken is blasphemous.  I have barely scratched the chicken recipe surface, and neither have you.  There are countless ways to cook America’s favorite bird, and I intend to try every one.  Through my journey, I hope I become as important to chicken as it is to me.

More chicken to come!