The other day I was in work. It was quite busy. Not rushed-off-your-feet busy. Just I-need-a-cup-of-tea-now busy. We got the food delivery in and, as usual, we started to unpack some stuff into the display fridge, put some stuff away, etc.
There was a huge bucket and when we opened it to look inside, we saw the slightly cloudy water that the poached chicken has been cooked in. Great, put that in the kitchen and I’ll unpack the chicken into tubs, when I get a chance.
Cakes went on stands, cheese went in fridges and salads went in bowls. It was all looking fab and under control. I went to the kitchen and that’s when we got loads of orders. There I was, heating, pouring, chopping, plating, and the bucket of chicken stood on the side, in my way, while I struggled to find time to deal with it. On and on it went, every time my hands went to the bucket to unpack the chicken, an order came in.
It was big and in my way but I didn’t want to move it out of the way, for fear I’d forget to deal with it.
Finally, I got the lid off. Then about four orders came in. I dealt with them and sent them out and then there I was again, alone with the bucket of chicken, finally. I was going to do this! Nothing could stop me.
Now, I don’t know how many of you are frequent poachers of chicken but it’s a fabulous way to cook it. It’s a lot more moist than roasting or frying. But as the chicken takes on the moisture from the water, so it releases some of its fat. So what you end up with is a pan of beautifully cooked chicken, floating in a sea of slightly discoloured water with fatty blobby bits on the surface. Should this water then cool down a little, the fatty blobby bits merge together to form misshapen white islands bobbing about on the top of the water. It’s not pretty, as you can imagine.
So this bucket of chicken had the inevitable floating blobby fat islands on its surface and the water itself was quite cloudy, so that I couldn’t even see the chicken in the bottom. It was a huge bucket, which was wierd because they never usually sent this much chicken. They usually sent a far smaller bucket.
Anyway, I got out two tubs to transfer the chicken into. I wrote the date on them, so we’d know when it came in.
I rolled up my sleeve… And plunged my hand into the fatty watery pit, to seek out the chicken from the depths below.
I swished my hand around. And around. I felt right to the bottom, around the edges. I swirled around in the fat-water. Around and around. And I didn’t happen upon a single peice of chicken. Not one. Puzzled, I kept swishing my hand around.
And then it dawned on me. They’d obviously made a mistake at the other deli, where they cook the food. They’d sent us this instead of chicken. They’d got mixed up, kept the chicken and sent us the bucket of water they cooked it in, clearly meant for throwing away.
So now, here I am, elbow deep in a bucket of fat, for no reason. A chickenless bucket of fat. With my sleeve up around my arm. The floating fat islands gently colliding with my forearm as I plunge around desperately, looking for poached chicken. Poached chicken which is not in this bucket. This massive bucket of fat.
It was not my finest hour.