The first time I roasted asparagus, the browned bits at the tips made my heart thump. Surely, it must be ruined, I thought. Heck, I almost didn’t serve it … what a mistake that would have been.
As much as I love to cook, some aspects of cooking frighten me. It’s a classic case of fear of the unknown. This is most acute when it comes to meats with bones. For as long as I’ve been cooking, I have been avoiding bones. Bones worry me. With bones, meats cook differently. Bones add inedible weight …
I have the market cornered on excuses. Seriously.
It’s not something I am proud of either. I actually believe that if we, as a family, are going to eat animals, then we should be willing to do the work necessary – touching the bones, separating the breastplate from the flesh, butchering—to eat it.
So, even though it frightens me, I am slowly beginning to cook with proteins that have been handled less … whole chickens, bone-in chops, unbutchered portions of steaks. In the process, I am finding that I can do it.
Recently, I bought a split chicken breast from Ox Hollow Farm, knowing that it had a bone. The farmer said it was just one little bone that I would need to remove.
Little is a relative term.
When I cut open the package this evening, I found that the one little bone ran the length of the breast. And was L-shaped. In fact, it was more of a breast plate …
For a minute, I thought about abandoning the project, pulling out something else to cook and just worrying about it tomorrow (hello, inner Scarlett O’Hara). But I didn’t. That wonderful, local chicken was going to be dinner for my husband and children and I certainly wasn’t going to let a little thing like a bone (and some skin … ) get in my way.
So, I loosen the bone with my sharpest knife, then I slid it out. My first attempt was messy and I lost more flesh than I should have. But with my second breast, the bone slid free with nearly no lost flesh attached.
As I finished breaking down the two breasts into boneless, skinless beauties, I saw how pristine it was. The tenders (yes, chicken tenders are an actual part of the chicken breast) came off easily, the pink of the flesh was nothing like the golden color of chicken breasts in the grocery store. It was amazing.
Best of all, when I removed the skin, I was the first to actually touch these breasts. Not some machine, no one else. Just me.
And guess what? I will do it again, because I can.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of four cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to a tween and a teen, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.