Sunday Chicken Dinner Salad

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 12.36.44 PMIf there was one thing I could count on as a kid, it was that I would be fed chicken on Sundays. Slow roasted, whole chicken slathered in margarine and liberally sprinkled with iodized salt. I don’t fault my mother for her style of preparation– butter was bad for you in the 70s, we’d never heard of Kosher salt because we were Catholics and sea salt was merely something to be washed off of one’s self before leaving the beach.

The accoutrements of Sunday dinner were always the same: severed chunks of Russet potatoes which roasted alongside the bird, yellow corn liberated from a can, iceberg lettuce salad tarted up with Good Seasons® Salad Dressing and croutons furnished by Marie Callender, and all washed down with a glass of sweet acidolphilus milk to combat canker sores. It was my second-favorite meal of the week.

My mother, brother, sister, and I would sit down to dinner and pause to say Grace. If it were my turn to perform the blessing, I found it easier to recite if I rushed through the words and clenched my buttock muscles into a subtle bounce on all the odd syllables.

Blessus our Lord/
For the-ese thy gifts/
Which weareabouttoreceive/
From thy bounty through Chri-ist our Lo-ord/

Because dinner is all about rhythm.

And we all had our own distinct versions of dining rhythm. My sister would pick at her food, performing sharp, staccato jabs at the odd potato or crouton and stare at our brother, whose own movements were decidedly grave as he set to work keeping each edible component on his plate isolated from the other, consuming them one by one in a performance so adagissimo, the chicken on his plate would have died of old age, had it not been sacrificed for our dinner.

My own eating style could best be described as an ongoing experiment in polytonality. I’d lift my salad bowl and dump its contents into the center of my plate; pile on the chicken, potatoes, and corn; drown everything in Zesty Italian and garnish with a child-sized fistful croutons. I wouldn’t have dreamed of eating my dinner any other way. And neither could my brother or sister in regard to their respective methods.

And my poor mother would sit there every single Sunday evening, trying to carry on meaningful conversation with her three growing children as she struggled to ignore their dissonant eating habits all for the sake of harmony.

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 12.37.42 PM

Sunday Chicken Dinner Salad

To this day, my mother asks me if I’m going to make a “mish mosh” of my food whenever we dine together. I can’t blame her for doing so. I happen to like multiple flavors and textures in my mouth at the same time. And I mean that in the cleanest way possible.

Although my palate and style of preparing dinner are (hopefully) much more sophisticated than when I was a child, I do maintain the habit of piling everything together when eating at home alone. In public, I am a little more discreet– creating my mish mosh one mouthful at a time, leaving what’s on the plate in its original (although rapidly diminishing) organization. I love slicing off a small piece of steak and pushing it through my mashed potatoes with my fork until it comes across a little clump of hitchhiking spinach, which it always obliges with a pickup. I  enjoy soaking up warm egg yolks and bacon grease with a piece of toast as if I were patting out a wine stain on the sofa with an old sponge. I prefer it when the ice cream sitting next to my cake begins to melt, hardening the frosting and weakening the crumbs. One component compliments the other, or contrasts. And I like it both ways.

I also mean that in the cleanest way possible.

Just like people who need people, I am a firm believer that foods which needs other foods are the luckiest foods in the world. Or, more correctly, that people who need foods which need other foods are the luckiest people.

There is no recipe for this salad, because that would be a ridiculous waste of time for me to attempt, and a tedious exercise for you to read (thank you, by the way, for making it this far).

Just make your favorite Sunday chicken dinner and eat as you prefer, making sure you save plenty of leftovers. When you feel ready, warm said leftovers, chop into manageable pieces, pile them on top of your favorite greens, and drizzle with your favorite vinaigrette. If you’re anything like me, you’ll love it.

Or, if you’re anything like my brother, you’ll think this is the stupidest way to each chicken in the universe.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About Michael Procopio

I write about food and am very fond of Edward Gorey. And gin.
This entry was posted in Meatness, Rants and Stories, Salad and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Sunday Chicken Dinner Salad

  1. kitten says:

    Apologies to you and my mother, who was an accomplished mish-mosher, but I’m with your brother. Foods should not touch each other until they are dissolving in my stomach, and I will not eat a different dish on the plate until the one I started is all gone.

  2. Ryan says:

    What was your favorite meal of the week?

    • Ryan– Thursday Pasta Night. We generally ate rigatoni or some other tube-shaped pasta with the family red sauce. I did not like spaghetti because I could not get enough sauce to adhere to it. And there was garlic bread. Lots and lots of garlic bread. I was very carbohydrate-focused. I still am today, much to my ruin.

  3. queen artoeat says:

    Roast chicken, mashed (or baked potatoes pulverized into mash) and broccoli bring me to my knees. The binder? A thick coating of gravy. And I am a tad messy in the cleanest way possible…

  4. ginny lee says:

    awesome–the first picture made me think of this

  5. Christine says:

    Just yesterday, David Lebovitz shared a link (on Facebook) to Judy Rodger’s roast chicken for two – Zuni Cafe – salad and croutons included.

    I lived in the Bay Area for a couple of decades and could kick myself for never getting to Zuni Cafe.

    My dinner last night? Corned beef hash (from Nueskes) with an egg and a lovely piece of buttered toast so I could soak up the egg yolk. Only way to fly.

    • Funny, I never bother going to Zuni for dinner, so I’ve never had the chicken, either. But I do love going there for lunch. A caesar salad, a plate of anchovies, shoestring fries, and a glass or two of wine. It’s more or less heaven.

      P.S. I didn’t know Nueskes made hash, but now that I do, I feel the need to order some online. Thanks for that.

      • Christine says:

        I don’t think I would pay for the corned beef hash from Nueske’s – it was an email offer – 2# of free CB hash with order. It was a step up from Libby’s, but a baby step.

        When we lived in the Bay Area, we would go to Bab’s Delta Diner in Suisun City for the corned beef hash – did not remotely resemble anything I’d had before. Ownership has since changed, but I hope the hash has remained the same.

  6. Adri says:

    Ah, I consume my bacon and eggs with toasted wheat bread in somewhat the same fashion as you, but before i get to the fare la scarpetta part, I carefully carve the white away from the trembling yolk, exercising great care not to disturb, or God forbid tear the aforementioned yolk. Should that happen, breakfast is ruined. After the white is gone, the fare la scarpetta movement begins. And only then. “Ritual eating” a friend of mine once remarked, is sign of an obsessive mind, upon seeing me eat my breakfast. After hearing that I never ordered bacon and eggs in public again.

    Thanksgiving dinner is another matter entirely. One must, I repeat MUST get a bit of turkey, and then as you note, swipe one’s fork through the mashed potatoes, letting a bit of cranberry – as you put it, hitch a ride along the way. And i do not care who sees it. Oh, did I forget the gravy dip? In all seriousness, why put the same foods on one plate if not to taste them together? Is that not the point?

    Different strokes for different folks. And I mean that in the cleanest way possible.

    • queen artoeat says:

      I think you are delving into the ratio of eating (take that Rhulman) and it is a very sensitive subject. The fork ratio or chew to flavor ratio usually takes a few mouthfuls to fine tune. The gathering of ingredients to arrive on the tastebuds leads to heady anticipation. My challenge has been ketchup on the burger. I have never gotten enough ketchup on my burger and use the dip and chew technique. I mention in the cleanest way possible.

    • Adri– The cleanest way possible indeed. I, too, have some little eating rituals. None of which I would ever admit to publicly.

  7. Julie B says:

    I am a total food mixer and proud of it. I remember my mother-in-law and sister-in-law trying to make fun of me during a holiday meal. I think I called them small minded and mean spirited, if they ever did it again they would be wearing the food! Lol!

  8. Kitchenbeard says:

    My fave mish mash is rendering some chopped bacon and then adding diced onion and potatoes until everything is good and brown. Dump that in a bowl with some grated cheese and then fry an egg till it’s just barely set in same skillet and then dump that on the potato mixture. Break the yolk and sit down and watch tv with strong coffee.

  9. Denise says:

    A friend told me to check out your blog and “Cooking With Mr. C.” on Facebook. I just “Liked” his page and came to look at your blog. I love when people share blogs with each other. Denise

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook