We don't watch much TV around here. The only things that we watch reliably are Top Chef and any IronMan that happens to come on. Thank you, Tivo! Anyway, this season on Top Chef, there was a challenge in which the teams competed to see who could complete a food-prep (chopping) series the fastest. The "dream team" folks were handily bested by the underdog scrappers. The challenge included oyster-shucking, onion chopping - 5 lbs and chicken butchering - 5 birds. The underdogs' guy (Howie) had a hard time with the oysters and finished just behind the dreamteam's guy (Brian). Then underdogs' Saira chopped the onions with lightning speed - she made the female favorite (Casey) look dumb. Then, underdogs' Hung (self-proclaimed C.P.A. - certified professional asshole) cut up those chickens like they weren't even made of bones - just like butter. It was beautiful to watch.
I butchered some chicken wings on Sunday and let me tell you - cutting up birds is not like butter. My tricep was so sore that it hurt throughout my swim and I only did 13 wings (that's 39 joint cuts, in case you were counting). The kitchen gods were smiling on me, though, because I didn't cut myself. See, we now own a deep-fryer because Doug has decided that frying is the next culinary mountain he wants to climb. We are slowly learning to use it. And, then, one day we might get to make those fried olives that we had in Venice years ago.
So, my point is that Hung should have won that show based simply on his ability to cut up those chickens. He won anyway, but it's hard to know where to put the knife to cut cleanly though a joint because (1) chicken skin and muscle is not transparent, (2) chicken is slippery, (3) cold chicken makes your hands numb, and (4) you can't be a candy-ass and cut up chickens - it's hard work.
Maybe it's a gross generalization, but I think that if you know your way around a chicken that well, chances are that you are pretty darn good cook. I've read a billion books and articles on how to cut up a chicken or parts of a chicken and I'm a decent cook but those wings were still hard. You don't get good at it without practice, a lot of it.
In other news, I'm still walking - but was able to bike today. : ) Whooo! Thanks Nat for slumming with my slow knee.
Good luck to Nat in her big race this weekend.