Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chicken Bone Chatter

Here we had this not very well-prepared rotisserie chicken in our refrigerator, along with carrots and celery that were partially frozen from our thermostatically challenged refrigerator. There was still snow on the ground, and the pressure cooker hadn’t whistled for a couple of days, so it seemed like soup time to me. The soup du jour was chicken and brown rice.

Richard is fond of purchasing rotisserie chickens when he goes grocery shopping, but very rarely thinks to eat them. This is because the mainstays of his diet are store-bought pastries like honey buns, toast, and English muffins. He knows he has high triglycerides, but doesn’t seem to get the low-carb concept. Since carbs are about the only vice left to him, I don’t say much on that subject, as long as his doctors are treating the condition caused by his addiction with medication.

A pressure cooker does wonders for poultry carcasses. All that collagen that holds the bones together simply melts into a velvety rich consomm√©. Mama’s mama used to pressurize turkey necks, and pick the meat for a turkey version of hog’s head cheese. She’d mix the turkey meat with lots of aromatic vegetables and several other seasonings, fold it all into the bodacious broth, and chill for several hours. This shimmering delicacy was served on crackers as an hors d’oeuvres. Talk about good!

Most people making anything with poultry stock, boil the bones, pick the meat, and discard the clean-picked carcass. But my mother had a more “circle of life” way of chicken bone recycling.

My youngest brother Albert, God rest his soul, had two yap dogs named Poopie and Buster, and a mutt named Henry. My mother loved to cook for these beasts, but had heard that the sharp ends of chicken bones could cause intestinal problems. Never one to waste anything, Mama picked the pressurized bones for family food and threw the bones back into the Presto for another round of high-pressure heat. When she’d re-open the lid to the pot, the bones would have transformed themselves into bone meal. Mixed with the shavings from various vegetables and some cereal source, this would make a fine feast for Albert’s menagerie.

We always knew when Mom had been feeding her special brew to Albert’s dogs; the next day their droppings would dot the landscape with bright white landmines. I don’t think these dogs ever lacked calcium in their diets.

My grandma didn’t believe in coddling any cur or kid, so I’m quite sure she discarded the bones when my mother wasn’t looking. That probably explains why Grandma waited until Mama was out of the house to do most of her cooking.

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