Sunday Night Dinner | Teen Ink

Sunday Night Dinner

December 4, 2023
By King_KDA DIAMOND, Burlington, Washington
King_KDA DIAMOND, Burlington, Washington
77 articles 0 photos 27 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Numquam finitur, donec vita finiatur."
- K. D'Angelo Alexander


   "Sunday Night Dinner." More like Sunday "All-Day" Dinner, if you ask me. A tradition of mine: fried chicken, collard greens, red-beans and rice, and cornbread. All from scratch. Well, except the cornbread. For that, I just use the buttery, savory Southern-style Jiffy cornbread-mix. To be fair, I do add a few things. Spicy, tangy jalapeños to complement and balance the sweet and salty taste of the mix. And bacon, to give it that slight crunch in every bite. Plus, it only takes about half-an-hour to cook.

   As for the chicken, which most consider the "main-part" of my dinner, the process is a little more complicated. First, I thaw the assorted boneless-pieces of chicken breast, and rib-meat. All varying in sizes: Some similar to strips, others whole-breasts that I have to cut into smaller pieces. This part of the process is my least favorite. Once the chicken has thawed, it is extremely disgusting to handle. The texture is somewhat slimy, with a rubbery feel to it when you press down. Holding the chicken-pieces in my hand with a latex-glove does not alleviate the gross feelings, or the coldness of recently-thawed chicken, relative to a surgeon holding a heart about to be transplanted. The next part, I do enjoy. After thawing, I select my thirteen herbs and spices that shan't ever be known to any of mankind. Adding them to the mixing-bowl full of chicken, in which I keep a little bit of water to prevent it from getting dry, I rub the spices into the meat. After having done this, I then add my blend of sauces in for the marinade, which will also remain a secret.

   The smell that all of those flavors create together is beyond aromatic; it is so pleasant to the olfactory senses of those within my household that it draws all of them into the kitchen, bribing me with their compliments in hopes that I'll let them try some as it is cooking. This never works: my tradition of chef eats first will always stand. I then let them marinate for around twenty-four hours, which brings out all of the flavors, seeping into the meat of the chicken. Sounds mouth-watering, I know. Later that night, I rinse and sort the beans before allowing them to soak overnight. Now we get to the day of. At 12:00 on the dot, I begin preparation for the sides. Draining the beans, I add them to a pot with a few cups of water, and place them on the stove at a little over medium heat. My stove requires some deep inner-cleaning, but since I don't like cleaning out things that are black with soot and burnt-remains of meals long since past, I turn on the stove-fan and open a window to clear the sharp, acrid smell.

   Next, I wash the collards prior to cutting them. They have a distinct smell when cut, that I cannot exactly describe. The scent is somewhat earthy, in a way. After this, I begin to heat up chicken-stock on the stove, which I season with a few of the spices I use for the rest of the meal. Occasionally, if I am using a whole-chicken, I will make a stock from scratch using the gizzards. This makes me nauseous, and queasy, ergo boxed-stock will suffice. I do not like the way the gizzards float in the water, nor do I appreciate the smell of boiling entrails. I then toss the greens into a large pot, in which I will simmer them with the chicken-stock for several hours, adding hot-sauce, bacon fat and pieces, honey, spices, and a little bit of brown-sugar. Some may find it weird to add honey and brown-sugar in your greens, but I have found that it cuts down the earthy, kale-like taste. Now we get to the real main-part of the dish: the beans.

   Once they begin to soften, I turn the heat down to a simmer. Succeeding this, I drain a majority of the "bean-water," replacing it with some of the stock used for the greens. This allows more flavor to absorb into the beans, on top of the fat, bacon, hot-sauce, and spices. You'll notice that these four are staples in most of my cooking. They are why people enjoy my food more than others; seasoning and flavor are the key-ingredients for the success of a meal. I then add the "main four," allowing the beans to simmer for several hours alongside the greens. Back beginning to stiffen, feet starting to ache. I then take a break, for chicken I still have to make. I sporadically check in on the beans and greens, making sure that the textures and flavors are correct, and guarding my precious culinary-creations from the grubby hands of the greedy.

   At around five-o'-clock, I begin the cooking of the chicken. Heating a large shallow pot of oil, in which I shall sacrifice my chicken to the Gods of the Kitchen, hoping that they will bless it with the crispy, golden-brown kiss. They reject my offerings occasionally, but the chicken always turns out edible. Just sometimes a little darker than it should be. One thing I do, that most others do not, is season my flour. I add a generous amount of the thirteen-spices, whisking them together. The fragrance of the raw herbs and spices, in perfect matrimony with the rather bland-smelling flour is almost heaven on Earth. Once the oil has heated enough, I dredge the pieces in an egg-wash, lightly battering them with the flour, and place them into my fry-basket. Blessing each individual piece, I hope that they will all cook evenly and that the skin will not burn before the chicken itself is ready. The smell that follows this is nearly indescribable. The only words appropriate enough to even get close to doing the job are: "it's good."

   Now my back really does hurt, as well as my feet, standing in the kitchen admiring my culinary feat. Occasionally, I will bring a chair into the kitchen. Usually, I just toughen up; the result is always worth the means. I mix together the cornbread, and place it in the oven next. The time I do this usually varies on the readiness of the meal. Oh, my. The smell of cornbread cooking. Sweet, with the sharp smell of crispy-cheese on top. This doesn't even come close to the taste of the finished product. The only non-climatic event of this part of the dinner is the rice in the cooker. Only needing to be checked to see if it is the right consistency. Rather boring.

   Once everything is cooked, I smile to myself. Another Sunday conquered, all with no help. The satisfaction one feels when cooking a meal that wonderful all by their self, in my opinion, is the drug that keeps people cooking. Well, perhaps the complements, and the Southern charm of the food, as well. The relief of sitting down in the chair to eat is swell.

   The chicken is crispy on the outside, bursting with flavor in its moist, juicy meat. The greens are spicy, but not too much. With a sense of sweet-heat, bits of bacon complementing it as it gets past your teeth. The cornbread is moist, yet still a little dry, as it should be. Jalapeños with a pop of flavor, the cheese crispy on top. Finally, the beans. Tender, and tasty as can be. Melting over the rice, blending in with the greens. The best part of the meal. All of these things are what Sunday means to me. Carrying on traditions, even though my family is afar, my grandmother who inspired me long since departed, others behind bars. The feeling inside, knowing that family will always be in the heart. This is Sunday, the day of new starts.


The author's comments:

This is a descriptive essay about my Sunday Night Dinner. It is about what Sunday means to me.

it alternates between poetic-structure, and typical essay-format.


Similar Articles

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

This article has 0 comments.