Last night I had planned on making the first recipe from the poultry section of the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook, the Pineapple Chicken Bake. My back was really bothering me yesterday and I spent much of the day in bed to rest it. I wasn’t really worried about making this recipe, though, as I thought it was fairly simple: put chicken breasts in baking dish, mix together ingredients, pour over chicken, bake. I decided I needed to get the chicken in the oven about 5PM.
So at 4 o’clock I went and laid back down in bed to rest my back prior to cooking. The plan was to read for a little while, but that quickly turned into a nap. Luckily I did wake up a few minutes before five, but I was all kinds of groggy. I trudged into the kitchen nevertheless and started trimming chicken breasts. I’m probably lucky that using a big knife right after waking up didn’t lead to bloodshed, really.
Now, the chicken breasts I had were not the usual ones I buy, but some that had been individually quick frozen. Supposedly you can cook IQF chicken breasts from a frozen state, but that makes no sense to my brain. Doesn’t that mess with your cook times? And you can’t season a frozen chicken breast. Plus, I like to trim the hell out of my chicken, removing pretty much everything: fat, veins, and that big old tendon on the back. So I had defrosted the chicken. I pulled the breasts out of the bag and they were slimy. And not slimy like raw chicken normally is. I’ve gotten used to handling raw chicken. Slimy like jellyfish, slimy like they were coated with something unnatural. Needless to say, trimming took me a bit longer than usual due to the pure eww factor. I ended up cutting the breasts in half because they came from monster chickens and I don’t need a chicken breast that covers half my plate, thank you very much.
Anyway, I then started combining the other ingredients in a bowl. Juice drained from the canned pineapple chunks, soy sauce, tabasco, curry powder, and honey. Now, measuring honey is never really easy. I squirted the honey into the measuring cup and then dumped it into the bowl, leaving the cup balanced on the bowl to let the honey drip off (I mentioned I was half asleep, right?). Naturally, the measuring cup flipped over, flying across the kitchen, leaving a trail of sticky honey. So I’m cursing and trying to clean up honey which leaves the floor all sticky, and I end up just throwing down some paper towels and moving on. I’m whisking together my sauce, when I read the next step in the recipe and realize I’m supposed to be whisking this together in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Fucking great. I must have skipped that step when I read the recipe earlier. It’s already 5:20 and the food isn’t even cooking and now I have to simmer the sauce for 8 minutes or until thickened. So I throw the sauce into a pan and start heating it.
The oven is already preheated to 450 and it’s hot as hell outside and the A/C is on, but I’m dripping sweat standing over this stove whisking frequently. It’s about this time that my husband comes home and I’m close to freaking out in the middle of a wreck of a kitchen. So he takes over whisking duties and incidentally, cleans the honey residue off the floor while I go sit down and rest my back for a bit. I’m not sure if the sauce simmered for eight minutes or what, but I eventually decided that it had simmered enough for me and added the pineapple chunks to it and poured it over the chicken. The chicken went in the oven and I could flop back onto the couch.
I served the chicken over the rice pilaf from earlier in the week. Surprisingly, after all that, the dish was pretty tasty. Justin said he was surprised at how good it was, “considering what it smelled like when I walked in.” The chicken was cooked alright and the sauce had a hint of spice and wasn’t too sweet, but the pineapple chucks were super sweet when you got one of them. It’s not exactly the kind of dish I would cook all the time, but it was good.