Experiment #19: Election Party Chicken Drumettes

We’ve been camping out in the Congressional Club COVID bunker for months, dutifully working our way through a tower of cans and making the Drake meme face at fresh produce. Seemed like a good time to poke our heads up like Punxatawney Phil on February 1 and ask, “HEY GUYS. ANYTHING GOING ON?”

Election season. Right. Fortunately, the Club has a recipe for every occasion, like the woman in Liz’s hometown with a trunk of holiday outfits for her plastic lawn goose.

Prepare yourself (and your lawn goose) for raw chicken and raw sensuality. Prepare yourself for... ELECTION PARTY CHICKEN DRUMETTES.

♪♫ The venga bus is coming...the venga bus is going. ♫♪ 

It’s an interesting time to be reviewing a recipe intended for an election party, since the concepts of both “elections” and “parties” are, shall we say... fraught of late? If you’re considering serving food to your friends and loved ones right now, pretty much the only safe and appropriate option is throwing it at them from a moving vehicle.

Then again, given the tense political situation in America at the moment, perhaps a good open-road food fight is the best and safest way to get this all out of our system. Let the healing begin!

This week’s recipe comes to you from the home of Edgar Lanier Jenkins (D-GA), a conservative democrat who represented Georgia’s 9th Congressional District from 1977 to 1993.

Compared to some other famous Clubbers, ol’ EdLanJenk has hardly the worst legislative record. Sure, he tried to slash the capital gains tax and manage the nation’s budget like a household’s. But he also sponsored or co-sponsored bills to abolish mandatory minimum sentences, prohibit sports blackouts on cable systems, and award a congressional gold medal to Dizzy Gillespie (better than Rush Limbaugh, whose rendition of “Manteca” is far inferior. His lungs just aren’t what they used to be.)

He was also very...fond of fabric. He tried to designate a week in April “National Carpet and Floorcovering Week” and spent years lobbying for tax breaks for “hosiery knitting machines.” These were likely targeted pork for his home district, but we don’t want to speculate at the risk of kink-shaming.

“Does the carpet match the pantyhose?” 

Mr. Ed never lost an election—he walked away from his House seat after 16 years, presumably so he could hold fast to his values and live every week like it was National Carpet and Floorcovering Week.

His success makes his wife Jo’s contribution to the 1982 Congressional Club Cook Book, “Election Party Chicken Drumettes,” seem all the more poetic. 

We’re eating like winners, over here. *makes lewd motion in the direction of Fate* 

Step 1. Spend precious COVID risk dollars buying margarine

We had just about everything we needed for this recipe already: soy sauce, brown sugar, water, mustard. All we were missing was the margarine. 

We tried to talk ourselves into using butter. (Who makes a special trip to the store for margarine? In this economy?) It would have been so easy. But we are Strict Constructionists, which means ignoring common sense and context to adhere to the letter of the Sacred Text.

Jo doesn’t specify what kind of mustard to use here—the recipe just says “mustard”—so Liz hauled a buffet of mostly-empty bottles out of the fridge. Her intent was to combine them into some sort of Super Luxury Mustard.

Then she read the recipe again.

Step 2. Measure Your Mustard

Sleeps in the park, shaves in the dark.

Forget Super Luxury Mustard. Forget Regular Mustard. This is the second Clog recipe on record to feature a spiteful amount of the stuff: a single teaspoon for three pounds of chicken drumettes.

This is mustard homeopathy, and we object.

It doesn’t help that the other parts of the marinade are stretched to unsettlingly maximalist proportions, like the boob scene in Leprechaun 3. JoJenks includes a cup each of brown sugar and soy sauce.

We’d never measured out a cup of soy sauce before. Tom did the math, and this marinade only contains enough sodium to probably kill a baby.

Liz is still trying to sneak hot tub capybaras into every image.

We whisked everything together in a saucier, which is French, and added half a stick of margarine, which is not.

As we stared into the pan, the cloud of mustardy margarine began to coalesce into a clear, Rorschach shape: a bumblebee whose exoskeleton has melted from salt poisoning.

Artist rendering of The Electoral College.

Once the bee was interned, we poured the marinade over the chicken, as instructed, and popped it in the fridge for two hours. By the time we took it out to bake, the margarine had risen obstinately to the surface and fashioned itself into a dull yellow film. Much like 2020, the chicken became more alarming as time progressed.

Turn! Turn! Turn!

We drained the marinade as best we could and tried not to make eye contact with the little baubles of margarine lint clinging to the chicken skin. There’s a photo at the top of the blog, if you’re curious. We’ve tried to jazz it up in a manic sort of way to mask the dread.

Step 3. Bake chicken for...wait, how long?

Sheen level: West Wing Reunion Special

JJ insisted that we bake these wings for two hours. In any other year, we’d be losing our goddamned minds about this, but it’s 2020 and we no longer have any idea how time works.

We assumed from the soy sauce and sugar that these would taste vaguely teriyakish. Turns out, they just taste vague. Yes, there is a sauce, and yes, there is...step to making it. But if you were handed one of these drummies and asked to describe in detail the culinary experience, you would be hard pressed to come up with anything more eloquent than “Tastes Like Chicken.”

The real benefit of the non-chicken ingredients seems to be lending a slight glisten to the surface, perhaps as a notice to others that Yes, This Chicken Was Prepared.

The color is less golden brown than burnished bruise. Officially, the Pantone shade is “Mitch McConnell’s Hands.” The texture of the chicken skin is also uncannily like Mitch McConnell’s hands.

Look, you don’t need a recipe for this. Take some chicken and cook it until you’re bored.

Ordinarily, we’d come down harder on a recipe like this, but this year has wrung all of the vitality out of us like an old kitchen sponge. It’s difficult to get too upset with some lackluster poultry when we’re busy being upset about Literally Everything Else.

In an odd way, this chicken was a balm for our weary souls. Another ounce of surprise (or sodium) might have given us heart palpitations.

Right now, we long for predictable, uncomplicated sustenance. We crave the boring. We crave the bland.

4 real tho

Stay safe out there, everybody.

Election Party Chicken Drumettes
By Mrs. Ed (Jo) Jenkins
Adapted from the 1982 Congressional Club Cook Book

¼ cup margarine
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon mustard
3 lbs. chicken wing drumettes
¾ cup water
2 cans Hamm’s

Combine margarine, brown sugar, soy sauce, mustard, and water in a saucepan. Heat until margarine is melted and brown sugar is dissolved. Cool. Place chicken drumettes in baking pan; pour marinade over chicken. Refrigerate 2 hours. Drain marinade from chicken. Bake in preheated 350° oven for 1 hour. Reduce oven temperature to 250° and continue baking for 1 hour and 15 minutes longer or until tender. Serve with Hamm’s. Makes 15 servings.

Experiment #18: Dr. Bird Cake

We’re hard on the 1980s here at the Clog, but we’ve gotta admit the decade had its charms. The Talking Heads! Alf! Snorting powder cocaine off the top of a humming Apple Macintosh! Scrunchies!

And occasionally—very occasionally—the food. Today, we bring you the first recipe from the 1982 Congressional Club Cook Book to yield a hearty Two Hamm’s Up from the test kitchen.

It is perhaps no coincidence that this is the first recipe we’ve made that had an advanced degree. 

 Presenting: “DR. BIRD CAKE.” 

Sorry to this bird. 

We know what you’re thinking: who is this Dr. Bird? 

We’re not in the business of rampant speculation here on the Clog. We take journalistic ethics as seriously as our Microsoft Paintings. But our best guess is that she represents one of the toddering first steps of 1980s feminism—like Astronaut Barbie, or Lady Foot Locker. 

Just look at this very real transcript we uncovered of THE Dr. Bird’s first day on the job at the Naperville University of Quantum Baking. 

SNEERING GREASER: “Ayyy, what’s a bird like you doing in a lecture hall like this?” 
BELINDA BIRD, PhD: “I’m the instructor. And that’s DOCTOR bird, thank you very much.”

The smiling skinsuit congressperson affiliated with today’s crumbly comestible is one Tom (no relation) Corcoran of Illinois, who represented Illinois’s 15th (and later 14th) Congressional Districts from 1977 to 1985 (*Bowling for Soup begins to play*). 

Foreground: Freedom schlub. Background: Freedom chub. 

Just look at that Certified Congressional Hunk. A man so studly, even the official House of Representatives photographer had to ask for an autograph. 

Corcoran was a staunch Ronald Reagan Republican with what one Illinois Issues reporter called at the time an “almost simpering personal veneration of the president.” 

His key legislative priority was dry-humping the earth, and he devoted most of his career to attempts to abolish the Department of Energy, prohibit coal severance taxes, and kneecap acid rain control initiatives, citing the cost to both “ratepayers” and the “thousands of unemployed coal miners” in his home state. Of Illinois. 

In a quaint twist of fate, Corcoran started his life in Ottawa, Illinois, and ended his political career in Ottawa, Canada, where he promoted the regional (artisanal!) tar sands as director of a lobbying group funded by ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil. 

His wife, Helenmarie, has an entrepreneurial spirit worthy of her pedigreed cake. She’s worked as a financial planner, dance studio owner, and arts advocate for a music festival in San Miguel de Allende. She’s also the most tech-savvy contributor by far, with her own Instagram and Twitter accounts—the latter of which is currently full of advertisements for knock-off RayBans. Change that password, Helenmarie! 

In all seriousness, her Dr. Bird cake is most likely a riff on hummingbird cake, a spice cake with pineapple and banana. In Jamaica, hummingbirds are colloquially referred to as “doctor birds.” We’re not sure a teaspoon of cinnamon makes a “spice cake” but it’s certainly more spice than we usually encounter in these recipes. 

Step 1. “Do you have any fruit to declare?” 

Only one canned food, and it’s crushed pineapple nubbins. We give this one and a half froots. 

On ingredients alone, we were feeling pretty good about this recipe—and Helenmarie. It takes audacity to make a scratch cake at a time when you could just as easily assemble Pillsbury’s infamous “Tunnel of Fudge” from a box and a can. 

The recipe calls for two cups of diced, not mashed, banana, which set off a few textural red flags. We’re a creamy house, not a chunky house. But we did our best. 

*looks directly into camera* 

There is no way to cut a banana that isn’t threatening. 

The Elsa sticker on our banana bunch didn’t help. Corporate produce marketing partnerships seem an unsettling new frontier. One imagines a head of radicchio embossed with Josh Gad’s hopeful snowman face. When you ruffle the leaves, it sings to you like a sound-chipped greeting card. 

We digress. 

Step 2. Combine Powders

[Lazy ‘80s cocaine joke TK] 

Helenmarie wants you to go to the trouble of sifting your dry ingredients, conscious as she is of optimal gluten formation. She also wants you to unceremoniously dump all of the wet ingredients on top like a Rochester garbage plate. 

Ignore the picture: the whisk isn’t your friend. This mixture is thicc. Your best bet is one of those enormous cauldron stirrers, or maybe an industrial laundry ponch. 

Once you’ve got the mix to something close in texture to a Nilla wafer pudding, tip it into a Bundt pan. 

We try to follow these recipes exactly, but there was one omission Liz refused to entertain: Mt. Helena never instructs you to grease the Bundt pan, let alone flour it. Tom objected because he is a strict constructionist (SCRAWWW!), but he was overruled. 

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Flan. Hair has not improved since. 

Here’s the problem: our only Bundt pan is holiday themed. (Do not ask us to become the kind of people who own two Bundt pans.) 

The holiday pan is full of Festive Crags and Crevices, which are excellent places for Cake Stick. And Liz still has deep trauma memories of standing at the kitchen sink scraping Cake Sludge™ out of the crannies with an old toothbrush. 

You can go your own way (♪go your own waaaaay♫), but we (Liz) highly recommend(s) you grease-n-flour. 

Step 3. Ruin your pizza stone 

The five states of matter: solid, liquid, gas, plasma, mulp.

We were feeling good about this cake (apart from the #chunx) when we put it in the oven. Look at that photo: there’s a solid inch and a half of vertical space left in that pan! Plenty of room for Dr. Bird to rise in all her aerated feminist glory. 

About 15 minutes into the bake time, we began to smell the unmistakable scent of burnt sugar. We looked at each other uneasily. The cake still had an hour to go. Surely we couldn’t have burnt it already? 

We cracked open the oven door and were greeted with the sickly scorch of pineapple on pizza...stone. The cake had expanded beyond the bounds of its Bundt, and molten, vaguely island-scented batter pooled like a lava flow onto the pizza stone on our oven floor. 

The spillage over the side of the pan reminded us of the “elephant’s foot” from Chernobyl. 

Not great, not terrible. 

We had to level off the bottom with a serrated knife before turning the cake out of the pan. But those sawed-off bites of sugar-crisped Pacific rim were delicious. We’d ruin our pizza stone all over again if we had to. 

And whaddayaknow...greasing and flouring the tin paid off. This cake was low-key delicious, like a claggier banana bread. It stayed moist for three days after we cut into it. 

The fruit #chunx supplied a little texture and a little fruity tang, but mostly faded into the background. Still, the undeniable star of this Bundt is the caramelized crust. The cake rind, if you will. 

Happy quarantine, all you learnèd, beautiful Birds. 


Dr. Bird Cake 
By Mrs. Tom (Helenmarie) Corcoran 
Adapted from the 1982 Congressional Club Cook Book 

3 cups sifted flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
2 cups sugar 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 ½ cups cooking oil 
2 cans Hamm’s 
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple with juice 
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla 
3 eggs 
2 cups diced ripe bananas 

Measure dry ingredients, then sift. Add all other ingredients to dry mixture. Stir to blend but do not beat. Bake in Bundt or 9 inch tube pan at 350° for 1 hour, 20 minutes. Cool in pan. Turn out and serve with Hamm's in center ring. Makes 8 servings.

Experiment #17: Crunchy Chicken Bake

Q. What’s the biggest issue facing America in this current moment?

A. Too much help from the government, of course!

This week, we’re eating an asparagus-perfumed urinary tract concoction courtesy of former Rep. Ronald Paul (R-TX), America’s Favorite Big-Suited Racist Grandfather. 

Paul isn’t concerned with trivialities like “the coronavirus” or “unemployment insurance.” In fact, he wrote an article warning us about “The Coronavirus Hoax” six days before his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentuckeh) tested positive for the virus.

In Ron’s defense, Rand is probably in on the conspiracy. Did you know he works for the government? 

Big Papa Paul was a towering(?) figure in the “Get Off My Lawn” movement of America’s late 20th century. While serving as a Representative for Texas’s 22nd (and later 14th) Districts, he sponsored over 600 bills, from auditing gold to kicking the United States out of the United Nations to protecting America’s Shrimps. Only one of the 600 passed, leaving him with a 0.2% success rate (20 basis points above his preferred tax rate.) 

He has since become a serial presidential also-ran, like Bernie Sanders’ very own Wario. He’s run three dogged campaigns for an office he seems to believe is imaginary, in the vein of a Mayor McCheese or a Grand Marshal of Margaritaville.

“Not Me, [asparag]Us” 

A noncomplete list of institutions and programs Paul has proposed abolishing: the Federal Reserve; the CIA; the FBI; the IRS; the FDA; the TSA; the FAA; the departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, Interior, and Housing and Urban Development; Medicare; Medicaid; Social Security; the Children’s Health Insurance Program; Medical Research Funding; FEMA; mandatory vaccinations; and all foreign aid.

In his spare time, he has opined as a private citizen (both in his allegedly ghostwritten newsletter, “Dr. Ron Paul’s Freedom Report,” and personal interviews) on gays, black people in general, Martin Luther King, Jr. in particular, apartheid, the AIDS crisis, the media, 9/11, and victims of sexual harassment with the care, intellectualism, and nuance of a sock full of wasps.

We had higher hopes for his wife, Carol, and her contribution to the Congressional Club Cook Book—“Crunchy Chicken Bake.” After all, Carol Paul once received a “Homemaker of the Year” award from Phyllis Schalfy’s Eagle Forum (A WOMAN’S PLACE IS IN THE NEST! SCRAWWWW!)

We regret to inform you that her “Crunchy Chicken Bake” isn’t exactly steeped in the French culinary tradition—it’s firmly mired in the Austrian School. 

Step 1. Release Freedom Soup from Aluminum Regulatory Body

We’re back in classic 1982 recipe territory: two cans of condensed soup, a half-cup of mayonnaise, and two cans of asparagus spears. 

The “crunch” ostensibly comes from an entire box of Triscuits and a can of sliced water chestnuts.

Water Chestnuts: All of the Crunch, None of the Compromising “Flavor.”™ 

Step 2. Grind Electricity Biscuits in the Ennobling Gears of Commerce 
The biggest news story last week was a Twitter sleuth alleging the name “Triscuits” was derived from “elecTRIcity biSCUITs.” There were no other news stories.

Carol first instructs you to pummel a whole, family-sized box of Triscuits (“Baked By Electricity. Flavored By Homeopathy.”) into a sack of chalky shards. You can eyeball it. Crush until they resemble the dehydrated droppings of an enormous Shredded Wheat. 

Then pour half of the mixture into the bottom of a 9x13. Don’t worry if you have large swaths of naked pan. Every casserole needs a jagged, patchy foundation. That’s what makes them exciting. 

Step 3. Mix Your Mulp
Reprinted with permission by the Ludwig Von Mises Institute of Canned Soups and Economic Analysis.

When we first read this recipe, we were confused by the total lack of salt. Then we remembered the condensed soup, which contains enough sodium to curdle an eel. 

Quarantine Protip: condensed soups can be used in masonry repair, in a pinch. These two squelched out of their cans with all the structural integrity and Randian vigor of a Thanksgiving cranberry gel.

Whisk these together with a half-cup of “salad dressing” (early American for “mayonnaise”) until the mulp resembles Lovecraftian cake batter. 

In baking, this is called the “trickle-down stage”

Tom is demonstrating here how to test for sufficiently greasy peaks. 

We made this recipe while videochatting with some Iowans. We figured if we were going to die of asparagus poisoning in our own home, there should at least be witnesses. 

Step 4. Freely Associate the Ingredients
—rupi paul

We have seen (and smelled) many mysterious, horrible things over the past couple of years. We have eaten of the Tiny Shrimp and choked down Joan’s Blue Cheese Mold. 

But nothing quite prepared us for the sheer intensity of the smell of canned asparagus—as if someone had spun cotton candy from sulphur and salt. Sure, it was vile, but we sort of admired the asparagus’s commitment to its principles. It was like the Howard Roark of flaccid produce.

This may be the vegetable’s purest expression. The pleasant tender crunch of actual asparagus cleverly masks a truth we all know deep down: asparagus just isn’t that good. Here, it’s steeped until the -ness of asparagus pervades every cell, until the vegetable’s subtler aromas are distilled into a concentrated beam of contrarianism. 

In other words, it’s a true Libertarian delicacy. 

The rest of the dish, we can only assume, is a metaphor for the dangers of suppressing market forces. Carol instructs you to smother the noble! pure!  asparagus in a layer of raw chicken, brined mushrooms, crème du can, and sliced water chestnuts.

Sheen level: glint of light on eagle talons 

At this point, the casserole was already an infrasound of conflicting textures. Still, we clung to a vain hope—perhaps, like Libertarianism, this would make more sense when baked.

Step 5. Spinkle & Bake, LLC
No Godfearing patriot would allow Autocorrect to hobble her prose. 

Carol’s final instruction is to cover the whole shebang with another layer of deconstructed Electrobiscuit and “spinkle” it with a hogshead of melted margarine. 

Was this merely an innocent omission by the author or publisher? Or, was Carol in fact instructing us to perform an entirely new action? 

In the end, we opted for a jazzy sort of trickle-ooze motion. 

Don’t Spinkle On Me. 

Cover in aluminum and bake at 350°F—or any temperature you like. Hey, it’s a free country, and it’s your property. This recipe already has too many unnecessary regulations. We’re not even gonna tell you how long to bake it. You do you.

Step 6. Become Homemaker of the Year

"Crunchy chicken bake” is a misnomer. This is more of a stew with scabs. Even the mighty crunch of triscuiticity couldn’t withstand the Mulp Offensive. A few crusty patches on the surface layer remained pleasantly crunchy, but the water chestnuts were the only real contenders for the Crown of Crunch.

The great mystery of Carol’s casserole is how it manages to pack an incredible amount of sodium and calories into something so bland. This dish has one flavor, and it’s Asparagus On The Way Out. The asparagus is an island. The asparagus is an iconoclast. The asparagus is a culinary filibuster, standing at the podium and screaming its heart out long after everyone else has gone home. 

Crunchy Chicken Bake
By Mrs. Ron (Carol) Paul
Adapted from the 1982 Congressional Club Cook Book

2 cups crushed Triscuits
2 10¾ oz. cans cream of chicken soup
½ cup salad dressing
2 cups diced chicken
2 10½ oz. cans asparagus spears, drained
1 8 oz. can water chestnuts, drained and sliced
2 2½ oz. jars mushrooms, drained
¼ cup melted margarine
2 cans Hamm’s beer

Spread half of crushed wafers in greased 13 x 9 pan. Combine soup, salad dressing and carefully spread ½ of this over the wafers. Top with chicken, asparagus, water chestnuts and mushrooms. Spread remaining mix on top. Then top this with remaining crushed Triscuits. Spinkle melted margarine over Triscuits. Cover loosely with foil. Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Drink Hamm’s while you wait. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more. Makes 8 servings. Suitable for freezing.