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14 years later, cooking club is still going strong

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

I’ve never been in a book club — or any club, for that matter — that lasted more than a handful of years.

The get-togethers always feel so special at first. Maybe it’s the excitement of getting to know your fellow members, or the joy of having found a group of people that cares as much about a particular subject or activity as you do. But after many months of meeting with those friends, that initial charm and enthusiasm almost inevitably wears off.

That’s why I was so interested in Glenda Lee’s cooking club, which I profiled in today’s food section. It’s not “her” group, but she’s the member I met first (at a stitch-and-bitch, of all places). She mentioned in passing that she cooked every month with friends she met on the Cooking Light community boards way back in the day.

How back in the day? Back when message boards, forums and chat rooms were what took up most of our time on the Internet. Fourteen years ago to be exact.

The tight-knit group let me hang out with them at their monthly dinner late last month, where they cooked an impressive meal of roasted chicken (Psycho Chicken, a darn near legendary recipe from the Cooking Light website), hasselback potatoes, asparagus salad, tomato tart, two kinds of bruschetta/crostini appetizers and an Irish bread pudding with caramel-whiskey sauce. (You can find all those recipes, minus the potatoes, over on the MyStatesman.com story, which should be free to access if you click on this link. Yes, social sharing of our stories is finally up and running. Time for a party.)

It was fun to drop in for a few hours and try to figure out what makes this particular cooking club work so well together. I didn’t see them stumble over one another in the shared kitchen. They didn’t bicker over how a tomato should be cut or salted. No one dominated the conversation or the oven. They just seemed to fit together like family but without all the drama that comes with obligatory relationships. Simply put, these five women who happen to love food more than the average cook choose to make time for one another.

What a nice lesson about finding (and maintaining) friendship in unexpected places.

Psycho Chicken

Psycho Chicken is a method, not really a recipe, according to the woman who originally posted the dish on the Cooking Light community boards more than a decade ago. The Alfred Hitchcock-inspired name comes from the technique of stabbing of the chicken all over before slathering it with herbs and garlic.

1 (3 1/2 lb.) whole chicken

1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 Tbsp. garlic, pressed

1 Tbsp. cider vinegar or malt vinegar

1/2 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc works well)

Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Clean chicken and remove giblets. Hack chicken all over with the tip of a sharp chef’s knife to make gashes.

In a small bowl, mix together thyme, garlic, salt, pepper and vinegar, and slather liberally on chicken, taking care that mixture gets into slits in the meat.

Place chicken on rack in roasting pan and roast about 2 hours until golden and fragrant, basting every 20 or 30 minutes with a splash of wine and any juices in the pan.

Now this is the crucial part, which will make or break the entire dish: If this is cooked properly, your chicken should be running with wonderful juices as you carve. Dredge each slice of carved meat in those juices before placing on platter — the juices are loaded with garlic and herb flavor.

— Adapted from a recipe on the Cooking Light community message board