I’d arrived at the grocery store – the third grocery store within a half hour – looking for quail. You know quail. It’s a small bird. It’s a small bird that is hunted for its small meat for no real reason other than people can eat it, so we do. Except for those of us living in Tampa, because nobody knows what a quail even is.
My initial vision for this dish was a tiny quail on a soft bed of wild rice, roasted with a spicy lime quail egg mayo. The poultry lady at the store looked confused and offered up her assistance, “so…you mean you want a Cornish hen?”
I was exhausted. After running around town and coming up empty, I the bitter sense of defeat lingered over my head like an Acme anvil attached to an unthreaded rope. I let out an exasperated sigh that may have come off as rude, which I recognized immediately, and offered up a smile to offset the sigh before throwing my hands in the air and saying, “ok, lady! Take me to your Cornish hens!”
The bird sat in my hands, being two sizes too big. How dare it? I dropped it unceremoniously into the basket and covered it with a box of trash bags. If I was going to be stuck with this bird, I might as well let it know I wasn’t happy.
Throwing a cooking party with birds twice the size of what I wanted them threw a wrench in my plan, which is why I took my kitchen shears and sliced that Cornish hen in half, scary movie style. I haven’t yet desensitized myself to hacking up chicken carcasses, even though I do it on the regular, and having these birds with such brittle bones makes it feel so weird. It makes me feel gigantic. I can only assume this is how Paul Bunyan felt when chopping trees. Except with chickens.
But it usually takes me a while to desensitize myself to things anyway. For instance, I’ve been watching birthing videos on YouTube trying to get used to the idea that babies aren’t actually grown in cabbage patches.
My plan was to start with the birth of something tiny – a mouse, maybe – and gradually work my way up to bigger things, like a slightly larger mouse. At that size the animal isn’t large enough to make out the actual horror of birth. But still, I feel like I’m progressing.
I guess I should now mention that I’ve had the worst case of writer’s block these last few weeks, and this post is an exercise in writing whatever comes to my mind to break the barrier. It’s like my brain had too much cheese to eat and now can’t go number 2. Wait, no…I didn’t write that.
Pro-tip: for the mayonnaise mixture, you can use either homemade or store bought, but take extra care not to use Miracle Whip. Miracle Whip isn’t mayonnaise. It’s the second sign of the end of days.
The first is not being able to find quail.
BAKED LIME-MAYO CHICKEN
[print_this]Recipe: Baked Lime-Mayo Chicken
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 2-4
- 1 Cornish hen, split in two
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 4 tbsp mayonnaise (homemade, preferably)
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Parsley or cilantro for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- On a cutting board, combine minced garlic and 1/2 tsp salt, chopping and scraping the knife against the cutting board to form a paste. Combine garlic paste, onion powder, lime juice, zest and mayo in a small bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Set aside.
- Place chicken skin-side up in a baking dish, pat dry skin, brush with melted butter and liberally salt and pepper the skin.
- Bake for 25 minutes, or until skin has browned and chicken reads at least 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Slather skin with mayo mixture and return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
- Remove from oven, cover loosely with tinfoil and let rest for 15 minutes. Serve hot over rice.