Chicken Thighs - Barry Hill

This month’s blog comes with a warning:  I get a bit graphic about preparing meat.  Don’t read if you’re a bit passionate or squeamish about that sort of thing.  No, really, don’t read it out of curiosity then complain that it’s not nice if you’re a veggie.  For the butchers in the audience, fill ya boots.


My wife and I are on a health kick.  Well one of us is on a proper ‘fat club’ (her words) diet and I think anxiety over chest pains are causing me chest pains, so I’ve gone healthy.  It’s also extra kudos to tell people that I’m supporting her with her diet.  Got to say that the weigh ins are nerve wracking.  I really don’t want to be losing more than her!


As part of my health kick I’ve been looking on the Fat Club website for recipes.  The one I picked for today sounded delicious.  Its chicken thighs stuffed with couscous spinach and parmesan and wrapped in bacon. Thing is the instructions say that I must take all visible fat off the bacon and to use skinless boneless chicken.  Fair enough.  As far as I’m concerned there’s no visible fat so that’s that box ticked.  Yeah, yeah…, I know I’m really kidding myself if I don’t take that fat off.  


So, how do I take the fat off bacon if I can’t see it?  The best way is to feel the slimy side of the bacon.  If you’re not used to fondling slices of bacon, what you’re looking for is One edge slimier than the other when you rub it between finger and thumb.  That’s the fat.  Are you veggie’s still with us?  I warn you; it’s going to get worse on the next bit.  Find an end to the fat, get a good grip and tear it off like you’re tearing open a package.  


I sound like I know what I’m talking about, don’t I?  Like I am some sort of master chef who does it perfect every time.  Well, when I did it, it left me with a very nice snack to cook for the dog and just a medallion of bacon for me.  Did I say ‘best way’?  I meant ‘laziest way’.  Right, on to the chicken.  This is where it’s going to get really Hannibal Lector.


A couple of days ago I went shopping for said chicken thighs.  As usual I got a shop assistant to, well, assist me.  I asked for boneless and skinless thighs.  What did I find when I opened the package when I got home? I found that it’s not only when you order groceries online that they give you the closest thing if they don’t have what you want.  The closest thing turns out to be with skin and bone.  


The best way (no, really, it is the best this time) to skin a piece of chicken is to find a loose edge, get your fingers under and tear off the skin.  It’s ok doing this if you don’t think about what you’re doing… and don’t imagine some horror movie where the hapless victim gets their face peeled off.  Not sure I’m going to enjoy eating these chicken thighs.


The next job is to fillet the thighs.  Remember, this is a blind man filleting chicken thighs.   After messing about with a sharp knife, I counted my fingers then figured out that the easiest way to do this would be with a sharp pair of cooking scissors.  Of course, you can give yourself a challenge (translation: ball ache) by employing my wife’s craft scissors like I did.  Well, I thought the crimped edge would look fancy.  It wasn’t a pretty job when I’d finished.  Put it this way, if it were an intricate device that required the use of precision tools to work on, I’d used a hammer.  Thinking about it, it probably looked like I had used a hammer on the chicken thighs.


For the couscous I had to weigh out 15g of it and mix it with two tablespoons of chicken stock.  It just so happens that my talking weighing scales went senile a couple of days ago.  I’d weigh something, and it would announce a random weight then it would start a slow countdown in twos.  It was like some Twilight Zone cursed death clock.  …six ounce, four ounce, two ounces, and lights out.  I could have worked with them if the first reading was right, but it was the third fourth or even fifth countdown that was the sweet spot.  Anyway, Angie weighed it out for me.  


Ah but what about two tablespoons of chicken stock?  Yeah right.  I’m going to make up some chicken stock just for two tablespoons – Bloody stupid recipe.  I used flavoured couscous.  I’ve got to say though that using chicken stock to make up couscous is delicious but only do it if you’re planning to dish up a full measure of each.


Right, how much spinach did that recipe ask for?  Two ounce.  That, in my estimation, is about ten leaves.  I think I made his day when I asked my green grocer for ten spinach leaves.  I hope he had to change his underwear after he stopped laughing.  Apparently, you can’t get spinach by the leaf.


The final ingredient was the Parmesan.  The recipe called for finely grated Parmesan.  I’ve got a one-size-fits-all cheese grater, and that size isn’t fine by any stretch of the imagination.  Let me give you a tip on grating Parmesan.  Don’t.  Just buy the ready grated.  Grating Parmesan is like grating rubber.  It’s as tough as a plimsol.  There are probably better analogies than plimsol for the delicious cheese, but it was the first thing that sprang to mind, so I’m sticking with it.


Now to put it all together.  I’ve got chicken thighs that look like roadkill, quite dry couscous, and bacon medallions that don’t so much as wrap around, more like stick on like a sticking plaster.So, dinner this evening will be butterfly chicken thighs, bacon medallions and cheesy couscous with spinach on the side.


Click on the image to view the larger version.