When we have a húilí, my friends regularly ask me to make “Hoochie Mama Chicken”. Hoochie Mama Chicken originated from the time I tried to make chicken goujons. Instead of long slender pieces of chicken, they were big, fuck-off pieces of chicken. They were tasty, but totally calorific; I battered and bread crumbed them twice, before shallow frying them in oil. Instead of calling the concoction “Mama’s Southern Fried Chicken”, I called it “Hoochie Mama Chicken”. The chicken has been known as this hens forth.
I went to a gathering of friends over the weekend. In advance of meeting, it was requested I make my chicken. I sent Boyfriend shopping to purchase the necessary ingredients and asked him to lend a hand in the preparation. I dismissed his constructive criticism on how to improve the recipe.
“What has worked so far will work further on,” I commented, as I sloshed the chicken in a large bowl of flour.
The chicken was crumbed. A pot of oil simmered. Boyfriend cleaned the bowls and utensils used in the preparation. So far all was well. I commenced frying. It was a slow process involving a few pieces at a time. It was strategic; I had to remove the chicken pieces from the hot oil, when they were golden brown. As I neared the end of this task, I became impatient. I dropped the remaining pieces into the scalding oil. The oil crackled and spat as the chicken fried. The oil in the pot began to bubble a little, almost like it was boiling. I watched in amusement, as bubbles – that could be likened to washing up suds – rose from the pot.
“I wonder why it does this,” I contemplated aloud. “It must be the milk in the batter that makes it do this”.
Boyfriend turned from the sink and looked agahst. He spoke sternly. “Eh, that pot is over heating. You might want to remove it from the stove before it goes on fire.”
“OK,” I replied cooperatively.
I removed the pot, guarding my hand from the heat with a tea towel. The sud-like oil drained over the sides of the stainless steel pot. Some oil spilled into the small space between the grill and cooker hob. It caught alight. Flames began to curl and lick. I thought quickly and arrived at a stupid decision; I attempted to blow the flames out like it were an oversized birthday cake with too many candles. This did not have the desired effect. Instead of quelling the flames, I fanned them. Within seconds, the fire spread and engulfed the entire cooker hob. Boyfriend waved his arms in a frantic motion, before grabbing the ten year old fire blanket. He threw the fire blanket over the cooker’s surface. I stood aside like a child whose mischievous actions had been discovered.
“Get some wet towels,” Boyfriend commanded.
I fetched the towels and together we placed them on the hob. Spirals of black smoke curled from the surface of the cooker upwards to the ceiling. The house stank of pungent smoke. He looked at me with a knowing smile. It wasn’t the first time I’ve seen this smile. “Stephen strikes again,” he thought.
The Hoochie Mama Chicken tasted all the better since we risked life, limb and our house in its preparation. Luckily enough the cooker still works. All in all I am blessed that a more tragic tale was not included in this blog.