Improv Dinner: Boiling a Chicken in the Dark

It was pouring rain here on Thursday night and when we work up Friday morning we had no power.  Friday was also my last day living in my house in California (moving day!) and we had friends coming over for dinner.  We had taken out a chicken that we had left from our meat CSA and we planned to roast that with some root vegetables and make a big salad.  By late Friday afternoon, with no power and no hope of having power in the next few hours, we had to make other plans.  We didn’t want the chicken to go to waste and we needed to be home for packing, moving, roommate stuff so we couldn’t cook it at someone else’s home, and we were scrambling to figure out what to do.  Then, I remembered a recipe I’d read by Alice Waters for braised chicken thighs.  So I thought, why not braise a whole chicken?

Boiled Chicken


I decided to make an onion-tomato-white wine broth to cook the chicken in.  I figured I could throw in some potatoes to make it a one pot meal and then just make a salad.  What I didn’t realize was how difficult cooking by candlelight could be.  It was almost like cooking blind.  I couldn’t tell if the onions were done or if I was seasoning appropriately.  I wasn’t.  But I learned a new way to cook chicken.  This dish wasn’t the best dish I’ve ever made but the chicken was tender, moist, and falling off the bone.  With a better sauce it could really be something.  I won’t include a recipe because I don’t think mine is good enough, but I will try braising a chicken again.  Next time I will make a spicier, tangier broth and skip the boiled potatoes in favor of some mashed potatoes to soak up the sauce.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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