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. 

Mailbag: The 1998 Congressional Club Cook Book


This week, we received a care(?) package from Sarah in Minnesota, a long-time Friend of the Clog. It contained many sinister goodies, and we're going to work through them one at a time.

But we're starting with the evilest, most recent edition of the cookbook we've seen.

The cover is actually a Magic Eye® print. If you let yourself go kind of cross-eyed, you'll see a hidden image of an aspic wearing the Gadsden flag like a cape. 

The 1998 (Lucky Thirteenth!) Edition is a beautiful, heavy tome suitable for crushing many insects. The pages are glossy. The cover is floral. The bookmark is a pink satin ribbon. In other words, it is quintessentially '90s femme.

This book is a decorative Kleenex box cover. This book is a carpeted bathroom. This book is The Joy of Cooking for Dolores Umbridges.

It is also SIGNED, transforming the book from "a little evil, in a Virginia Slims kind of way" to "extremely evil, in an ancient and probably tentacled kind of way."

We understand why Mary and Andrew had to get rid of it, but the curse has now passed to our home.
In case you're using a screen reader (or just hate reading in cursive): that's a dedication from former Senator (and former segregationist) TRENT LOTT (R-MS).

Yes, the very same Trent Lott who stepped down as Senate Majority Leader in 2003 after saying that if the nation had elected Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond as president, "we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years."

The very same Trent Lott who, in 2018, publicly stated that he would support giving firearms to "talented children and highly trained preschoolers."

When we got to that page, we screamed. 

The recipes range from sensible salmon jellies to "breaded dandelions." They're also accompanied with full-color photographs! Not of the food, of course—that would be ridiculous. Instead, most recipes have lovely inset photographs of flowers withering upon the lea.

Here's the chapter header for "meats, seafood, and poultry":  

"Are we...a metaphor?"
Other signs of the times: the ENRON Corporation is listed among the Club's "Bronze" sponsors. 

The foreword contains a genuinely lovely explanation of the Club's subversive history, which we have reproduced below:

"On May 6, 1908, at the very first meeting of the Congressional Club, its founding members voted to ask Congress for a charter. John Sharp Williams, Minority Leader of the House, who opposed women's clubs for keeping women away from hearth and home, announced his opposition. On the day of the vote . . . Mrs. Williams, looking her loveliest, surprised her husband with an invitation to lunch. While they enjoyed an hour in the Representatives Dining Room, the charter resolution passed on the Floor." 

The Congressional Club women indeed strayed far from hearth and home. And while our bellies and blood pressures may rue their recipes, our hearts and minds salute these feminist pioneers and home cooks. Because we, like these noble foxgloves, are true friends. 

Definitely weed in there somewhere. 

New Clog coming at you Friday, featuring a little-known Libertarian fella by the name of "Ronald Paul." If you missed our last entry, "Tomato Soup for Microwave Oven," click the recipe name to be transported to an electromagnetic time/taste.

Note: while we are steadfastly committed to keeping this a money-losing operation, we will always accept donations of Hamm's, unsettling gelatin molds, and ancient culinary runes. Inquire within: congressionalcookbook@gmail.com