Man Plans God Laughs

How many ways can you spell chicken?

If it can go wrong, it will.

Take the picture above, for example.  I was out with a bunch of hungry bloggers one evening and this was on the menu at the restaurant.  Since my friend Toby has a blog featuring jewels such as this one, I snapped a pic on my phone and sent it to her.  Now that I needed the picture for my own blog post, I couldn’t find it.  Luckily, I just hopped over to Toby’s blog and snatched it back.

I wish all of my life could be this easy.  But “man plans, God laughs” seems to be the theme song of my life.  Take last Friday night for example…

Part of the school uniform for the Jewish Hogwarts

Ju-Boy has several circles of friends, many of which interlink like a Venn diagram.  One of his circles contains a group of friends that go back more than 40 years to his glory days at Carmel College (the snooty prep school he went to back in England).  Every now and then these friends all get together and they reminisce about the days when they wore purple jackets, row-row-rowed their boats gently down the stream for gym class and snuck out to the local pub in the village when the headmaster wasn’t looking.  Think Hogwarts for Jews, and if Ju-Boy was Harry Potter, then his friend Mike was Neville Longbottom.  Even though Mike has been living here in Israel forever, we don’t see him very often, usually just at smachot (celebrations).  But lately we’ve been back in touch, socializing a bit more than trading small talk at a Bar Mitzvah or school reunion.  Last Friday night Mike and his lovely lady, Michal, came for dinner.  We pulled out all the stops, but I think we pulled a little too hard.  We planned, but we didn’t laugh…

HaBayit shel Benji

Friday is normally a busy day in and of itself.  This Friday we had a lot on the table, so to speak.  I got up early and prepared the challah dough for rising.  Then we went on the charity walk sponsored by the Benji Hillman Foundation to raise money to build HaBayit Shel Benji, a home for lone soldiers in Ra’anana (lone soldiers [“chayalim bodedim”] are young men who come to Israel on their own to serve in the IDF, or who come from disadvantaged backgrounds in Israel. These lone soldiers have nowhere to go when they are on leave. Habayit Shel Benji will provide them with a warm home during their army service).

Guess which one of these headless chickens resembles Ju-Boy the most?

After the walk I was back in the kitchen cooking while Ju-Boy and Shy-Boy went off to have the car cleaned and then off to visit Optimus Prime, the Rani, Crown Prince and Brave-Boy.  I had a kitchen all to myself until 5 PM at least.  Usually, on days when I know I’m alone in the kitchen I pretend I’m a Food Network star taping my own show, at least in my head, and sometimes out loud.  As I put the finishing touches on the chicken and the Brussels sprouts, I tempted the fates by telling myself this was going to be an amazing meal.  A little after five Ju-Boy blew into the house with the force of a headless chicken on a rampage.  I know better than to hang around when he gets like that.  I asked him if he needed me to help him with anything, or could I go upstairs and start getting ready for Shabbat?  He told me he was fine, he had “stacks of time” (one of his favorite Friday afternoon utterances).  Again, I asked if there was anything I could do to help.  He growled as only a British headless chicken could growl, and I went upstairs to take my shower.

As I lit the candles I looked at the wonderfully set table, the electric hotplate loaded with a wonderful Friday night dinner, the warm glow as the Shabbat Queen entered our home.  And once again, I tempted the fates by thinking we were going to have a great meal to show off to our first-time guests.

It was all clicking into place.  Mike and Michal showed up with a great bottle of wine in hand.  Didi and I chatted with them while we waited for Ju-Boy and sons to come home from prayers.  Ju-Boy made kiddush over the wine, and we passed around the challah (my first post-Passover batch, full of yummy flax seeds).  Everybody got a lovely bowl of hot chicken soup with kneidlach (matzah balls).  And then, disaster struck.  (What, you didn’t see this was going to happen?  There was enough foreshadowing, get with the program, people!)

The first indication was the fact that Ju-Boy, Shy-Boy, Didi and Chip all got up to serve the main course and… didn’t.  There was a lot of whispering going on in the kitchen, and then the part where God laughs clicked in — with all our preparation, someone (ahem, I’m not naming names) didn’t turn on the hot plate.  Our food was cold, or room temperature at least…  Roast lamb, cold.  Roast chicken, cold.  Brussels sprouts, cold.  Carrot kugel, cold.  At least Ju-Boy’s roast potatoes were still in the oven, nice hot potatoes served with room temperature gravy.  And my yummy dessert, hot chocolate fudge pudding, was lukewarm chocolate fudge pudding.  But our guests were gracious.  And hungry.  They proclaimed the food tasty even without any steam rising from the dishes.  Drinking the bottle of wine they brought didn’t hurt matters.

In spite of the hot plate glitch, it still was a great Friday night dinner.  As Didi excused herself from the table to go hang out with her boyfriend (it had been at least two hours since she had seen him last, poor girl) she proclaimed Mike and Michal one of the most interesting couples to every grace our table.  Even Ju-Boy’s kids said they liked our guests, and they usually snore through adult conversation.  We’re going to have to invite these two back, the kids like them, we like them, and I owe them a hot meal.

Tortured Chicken

I first came across this recipe on Recipezaar.  It’s always been a hit, and the poor little chickie perched on the beer can (or Coke can) is always a good talking point.  And as I found out this past Friday night, it’s pretty tasty even served at room temperature.  If you want the recipe as is, check it out on the Recipezaar page.  As is, one serving of this chicken contains 400% of the USRDA recommendation for sodium.  My recipe below is slightly tweaked.

  • 1 large chicken, rinsed in cold water and patted very dry, inside and out with paper toweling (we cut off the wings and neck)
  • 1/2 of a can beer (tall cans are best for steadying the chicken, you can also use Coca-Cola if you don’t want to use beer)
  • 1/3 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).
  2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or silver foil, or even both.  This dish makes a mess in your pan and you will not want to spend time scrubbing up afterwards.
  3. Mix the paprika, salt, black pepper and brown sugar.
  4. Use this rub inside and out of the cleaned, dry chicken.  Give the poor bird a good massage with the rub.
  5. Place the 1/2 can of beer in center of roasting pan (drink the other half while your chicken roasts).
  6. Position the “bottom” of the chicken over beer and slide chicken over the can of beer until the chicken is”sitting” upright in the pan.
  7. Roast uncovered for 1 hour.
  8. Do not baste, do not turn pan.  Don’t even touch the pan because you might cause a chicken toppling.
  9. The beer will steam the chicken deliciously.
  10. When done, carefully remove can of beer from chicken and serve.
  11. Chicken can also be carved while “sitting” on the beer can.  Again, this makes for a good talking point.
  12. You can make as many chickens at once that will fit upright into your oven for the same one hour cooking time.

Three chickens-worth of rub ready for slathering

Rubbed chickens before the roasting

My three little chickies after their hour in the oven and prior to being de-canned. The juices in the pan make the best gravy!

About Miriyummy

All I want to do is live happily ever after.

Posted on 7 May 2012, in Chicken, Family Life, Passover, Shabbat and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Oh, I’m so glad to have been useful 🙂
    At least your food was cooked, it could have been worse! Those sitting-duck chickens are the wackiest thing I’ve seen in a week – we may have to give them a try…


  2. Margo Sugarman

    Clearly I’ve been living here for far too long – I didn’t even notice the typos!!


  3. My mother always said that anything that can be eaten hot can be eaten cold so I’m sure the meal was great . . .


  4. naomishosh

    I had to laugh Mirj. Reminds me of the time I had a hungry brood of 8 young strapping guys coming for Shabbat lunch and was wondering whyu my two huge cholent pots did not smell up the house. Whoops… I forgot to turn on the crock pot! I was sooooo embarassed, as you can imagine! They ended up staying ’til the wee hours of the morning cuz they came for cholent and they weren’t going to leave until it was gone. By Sunday morning not a scrap left! I made “do” with leftover schnitzel and cold kugel and salads. Oh well. This happened a year ago and I will never forget the misshap!


    • Lucky you! We once forgot to plug in the crock pot and by the morning the cholent was a smelly mess.


      • Oh, you guys are making me feel so much better! I thought I was the only one who had ever left a crock pot full of cholent unplugged 🙂


        • naomishosh

          I didn’t get any stomach complaints the next day. It didn’t seem to bother them that the meat, beans and kishke sat there for so many hours. I told them to eat it at their own risk. Once the cholent was cooking the smell was incredibly good. I myself wouldn’t chance it. Toby, I looooove your Israeli bloopers! My daughter is at IDC in Herzliyah and has a fb album dedicated to a bunch of them. Hilarious!


        • Oh thanks, how exciting to have a fan! Nice to meet you!


  5. shilohmuse

    Looks yummy, please remember to send to KCC


  6. That looks delicious!

    Re the sign…I think that no matter how many times you these kind of mistakes, they are hilarious all over again.


  7. Karen Eisenberg

    I do this to chicken all the time, the original name of the recipe is ‘beer butt chicken’ (think about how the chicken sits on the can). I use a marinade with lots of paprika and a little balsamic (as well as olive oil, lemon, pepper, etc.) rather than using a rub, and I put the oven on ‘turbo’ to further dry out the skin. I have little chupchiks that hold the beer cans up, if you want I can get you some when I’m in the US.


  8. Rachel Burstyn

    Looks good; you had room in your oven to cook them standing up? Thanks for posting to the Israel-food facebook group; that group needs more action!


    • If you put them on the lowest shelf there’s room for the chickens to stand up. I also use the turbo setting. And yes, that group does need more action.


  9. Chicken Delight, to be sure…. Lovely, flavourful, moist, and tastes like more. I have used this recipe to bake 6 chickens, for a large group,with plenty left after dinner for setting out, to “pick and nibble.
    Thanks Mirj….


  1. Pingback: Kosher Cooking Carnival – The Sivan Edition | Ilana-Davita

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