Experiment #8: Chicken a la Brezhnev AKA The Red Chicken


Slow news week, huh? What’s everyone been up to lately? We’ve just been sitting around, darning socks and watching the once-slow erosion of American democracy speed recklessly toward its inevitable conclusion like a sumo wrestler on a hotel waterslide.

*~*~TGIF, GUYS!~*~* cracks Lime-a-Rita

It seemed like a good week to take on a recipe from Peggy Smeeton Stanton, wife of J. William Stanton (R-OH). Before reaching the zenith of her career as Congress Wife, Smeeton Stanton—for brevity’s sake, we’re going to use her DJ name, P-Smeet—worked briefly as a journalist, appearing regularly on ABC’s hard-hitting afternoon show, “News with the Woman’s Touch.”

We’re not sure what news with a “woman’s touch” looks like—we think maybe swatching nail polish colors to match the feverish hellclouds from nuclear test sites?

Read-‘em-and-Smeet’s contribution to the 1982 Congressional Club Cook Book was “Chicken a la Brezhnev, AKA The Red Chicken.”

The Red Chicken (Paramount, 2017): Liam Neeson stars as a vegetarian double agent in this madcap political thriller about Joseph Stalin reincarnated as a laying hen.

The dish was named for Leonid Brezhnev, the de facto leader of the Soviet Union from 1964 until his death in *gasp* 1982.


...et tu, Peggy? 

Anyway, we just thought the name of the dish was funny. There's absolutely no reason a Russian-themed Congressional dish would be relevant in today's political climate. 

No reason at all.

Smeetball's Soviet-style contribution to the NecronomiCongressional Club Cook Book seems appropriate when you consider that her husband, J. William Stanton, served in Congress at the height of the Cold War. 

John William Stanton served from 1965 to 1983 as a moderate Republican ("lol wut?" -Millenials) from Ohio's Clevelandiest district. Born in Painesville, Ohio, Stanton the Manton graduated from the Culver Military Academy and attended the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in 1942 before serving in the United States Army from 1942–46—where he received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for various wartime daring-do.

J.W. Stanton, seen here telepathically selling you Chesterfield cigarettes.

In 1949, Stanton graduated with a degree in Business Administration from Georgetown University, after which he pursued a fulfilling career in Business as a Businessman, eventually working his way up to Prominent Businessman with a certificate in Business Studies. 

When Mr. Business Q. Business eventually got tired of shoveling paper down in the ol' business mines, he ran for the House of Representatives, becoming the ranking Strong Caucasian Jaw Republican on the House Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs.

Stanton was a fiscal conservative known to work well with opposing groups, and he managed to somehow appease both organized labor and business interests. His chief strategy as Master Negotiator seems to boil down to not sticking his name on any piece of legislation more controversial than a post office name change.

Stanton is, to date, the last Republican to represent his Cleveland district, which has been solidly blue ever since. We suspect this may be due to the fact that "moderate Republicans" like Stanton have been hunted to near extinction by a metal-hearted clone army of Dick Cheneys on their Big-League Game Ranch in Texas.

Anyway, on to the recipe. 

Step 1: MAKE NEAT YOUR WORKSPACE FOR THE GLORY OF THE UNION



Four ingredients, folks. Say what you will about 1980s cuisine—it’s 100% Drunk Housewife-proof.

Setting: the suburban Ohio mansion of J. William (J-MONEY) Stanton. Dusk. A Lincoln town car crunches up the gravel drive. His wife, Peggy (P-SMEET), jolts awake and swings her bare feet off the floral davenport. She dashes frantically around the living room collecting bottles and ashtrays, then tips a generous armful of drained 40s of Old English malt liquor behind a potted plastic ficus.

J-MONEY: (calling from foyer) “I’m home from the business factory, my darling divine. What have you been doing all day?”

P-SMEET: (kicking empty jam jars and spent foil packets beneath the fridge) “Why, straining over a hot stove to make you this delicious dinner from scratch, of course!”


Step 2: COAT PROUD NATIVE BIRD IN NUTRIENT PASTE FROM CONSUMER COOPERATIVE



The recipe calls for “chicken pieces,” which seems criminally vague. Given the cook time (two hours), we’re going to suggest you use bone-in chicken thighs—unless you like your chicken breasts stiffer than a colonel’s lapel.

Smeetheart demands you “rub” the chicken with a whole jar of apricot preserves. The vibe here is very “duck à l’orange” minus the duck and the l’orange.

We’re not going to lie: this whole skin-rubbing process was uncomfortably intimate. It didn’t help that Liz kept calling it “The Ceremony.”


Blessed be the fruit.

Once you’ve thoroughly massaged your bird and swaddled it in jam, nestle those cozy comrades into a roasting pan.


We weren’t sure whether to layer the pieces skin side up or down—P-Smeet doesn’t say—so we split the difference and did half and half.



If you make this recipe, go skin side up unless you feel like going HOG WILD and flipping them halfway through—over the course of the long, slow bake in a lukewarm oven, the sugar browns (tans?) and candies the chicken skin into a not-entirely-unappetizing toffee-like consistency.


Step 3: STRENGTHEN THE RED ARMY



Festoon a bottle of Russian dressing with two packets of dry onion soup mix.

With only four ingredients—one of them chicken—Smeetgol’s recipe has managed to outclass even the Before Dinner Soup in the sodium department. This dish has a colossal 7,760 mg of sodium.

We suspect the true "Russian interference" was sneaking excessive salt and sugar into the American diet.

But the jokes on them: it’s nigh impossible for the proletariat to rise up and seize the means of production when the FREEDOM-SIZED bourgeoisie can crush discontents beneath the grinding wheels of capitalism their powered mobility scooters.


Step 4: STOKE YOUR LOVE FOR THE MOTHERLAND IN THE FIRES OF INDUSTRY



Smeety-Smeety-Stant-Stant says to bake this at 325° for two hours. Again with this nonsense. Did they not make ovens in the 80s that heated over 350°?

We’d never cooked chicken at this low a temp before. Given our experience with the vinegar pie, we were a little worried about salmonella. But after about 40 minutes, we started to smell the sugars caramelizing.

This actually had a fairly pleasant aroma while baking. Imagine the smell of old cartons of Chinese takeout wilting on a dashboard in July.

Don’t wince at us. Google how fish sauce is made. And fish sauce is amazing.


Step 5: GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT (TWO HOURS)



It’s hard to tell from the photo, but that chicken is floating leisurely in a brick-red bath of separated chicken fat and barely boiling sugar glaze.

…we don't endorse saving the drippings and repurposing them into a pan sauce. But the chicken itself came out fine. We would describe it as "cooked."




We both agreed that this was our favorite recipe from the cookbook so far. It's not even close. The meat itself wasn't strictly seasoned, but the sauce reminded us of the sticky-sweet, froot-adjacent taste of truck stop Panda Express. It was entirely edible. 

Sure, you’re getting more than your recommended daily sodium intake in one meal.

But Olive—lover of all things saltmeat—isn’t complaining.

ha ha totally staged she would never jump on the coffee table and steal bones from our hands she is so well behaved and definitely not a tiger that shrank in the wash ha ha #fakemews

Chicken a la Brezhnev AKA The Red Chicken
By Mrs. J. William (Peggy) Stanton
Adapted from the 1982 Congressional Club Cook Book

4 to 6 pieces chicken
1 18 oz jar apricot preserves
2 envelopes Lipton onion soup mix
1 8 oz bottle Russian dressing (can use another 8 oz bottle for 10 pieces)
2 cans Hamm's beer

In this order: Rub each piece of chicken with preserves. Lay chicken in single layer in large roasting pan. Pour dressing mixed with onion soup mix over top. If serving large amount, go through 3 steps and layer chicken one on top of the other. Bake at 325° for 2 hours, uncovered. Drink Hamm's beer for 2 hours, uncovered. After cooking is finished, chicken may be kept in warm oven COVERED. Makes 4 to 6 servings. May be frozen.

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