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.