Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Elusive Chicken Sandwich

I had a crisis last weekend when I  contemplated the 5 lunches   I would have to eat away from home. Then I  thought about Dutch, not having had a homemade lunch in almost a year. That is 10 lunches. It didn't matter that I  hadn't written single lesson plan for the coming week. Sustenance was my main concern. I fed lulu and bolted for the grocery store with only the vague intention of shopping for sandwich fixings. Once at Safeway I  was overwhelmed with the sheer size of the place and at the same time the crummy ingredients of the food I was interested in.


I have been on the hummus kick lately. I was craving the russian grocery canned hummus mix. It is a mixture of tahini and garbanzo beans and it is up to the consumer to dress it up. Naturally, I couldn't find it. I found an expensive jar of tahini and had to settle for a few cans of garbanzo beans. The runny, bland grocery store variety was out of the question.


I was looking at the meat section and getting more and  depressed by the numbing rows of bloodless, plastic wrapped packages. I wanted a dead animal. I missed the honest Chinese grocery butchers, where there are rows of identifiable body parts. I finally settled for a headless Foster farms chicken. 


I glanced over the sad bakery aisle, now picked over. Finding no inspiration, I decided I  would come home and bake.

I picked up a few other sundries like fruit and sardines (I had to give up canned tuna while I was pregnant and have since discovered the omega 3 rich joys of tinned sardines and herring) and headed home.

I spent the next six hours of my rapidly disappearing Sunday afternoon baking, processing a whole chicken and grinding canned garbanzo beans in a food mill to make hummus.

I had to enlist my mother's help with the chicken. I had planned on boiling it-- not only do the French have a great term for it-- pot au fou, but the meat is always moist and you get a mess of chicken stock.  A few hours later, I was carving up the breast and putting a good quart of stock in the fridge.


I got the bread started as soon as I could. I had good luck in the past with Laurel's Kitchen pumpernickel. I had a terrible time with the dough, it was way too watery.  Eventually I got the consistency right and got it rising. Next time I'll try another recipe.  It turned out moist, dark and dense-- just like the Georgian bakery on Geary.  Cut thin, it would be perfect for the sandies.


I had never used a food mill and I didn't want to mess with the food processor, with all its hard to clean plastic parts.  I found out the hard way which size hole to use (the biggest) but not before I got little bits of garbanzo on the walls, floor and counter (sorry Mom).  The resulting hummus was the best I had ever tasted.  I added only salt, pepper, fresh lemon juice and olive oil.  It had a full, thick texture and the lemon gave a nice tangy bite.

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I blog about life and soup, but mostly soup.