A Guilty Pleasure

OK, let’s take a moment to get real.

Tuesday’s election don’t show that the majority of Americans are racist, sexist idiots.

Nor do they confirm that “Americans want change”.

They don’t even show that we need to get rid of the Electoral College.

What the results really tell us is that 44% of Americans don’t care who governs the country.

According to the estimates of the United States Elections Project, there were 231,556,000 people eligible to vote in the election, yet only 130,840,000 ballots were cast (and let’s not forget that not all of those ballots included a vote for president).

This is not a call for mandatory voting. If people don’t care enough to go to the minimal effort of requesting an absentee ballot, filling it out in the comfort of their own home, and dropping it in the mailbox, they’re not going to go to the effort of studying the issues just because they’ll be fined if they don’t vote.

All I’m saying is that if, after a year and a half of promotion of the election as the most important one in history*, nearly half of the population still doesn’t think it matters who’s running things, then, regardless of the result, we’ve gotten the government we deserve.

* Whether that’s right or not is really irrelevant.

And that’s the last thing I’m going to say about the election.

Moving on to something more cheerful.

This is definitely one for the “Guilty Pleasure” file. It’s also a work in progress.

Our local supermarket sells Salt and Vinegar Chicken Wings. They are incredibly tasty. They’re also incredibly bad for me: based on my history of kidney stones, fried foods and high sodium foods are both strongly contra-indicated.

The other problem is that I’m not really crazy about wings. The meat to bone ratio is too low, especially when you’re buying by the pound.

So we don’t have the supermarket product often.

We’ve looked for an alternative, something using thighs instead of wings, and preferably baked or roasted instead of fried. Most of the recipes we’ve turned up have involved crushing salt and vinegar potato chips and using them as breading for the chicken.

Not only is that cheating, but it keeps all of the flavor on the outside of the bird. Great for the skin, less so for the meat down near the bone.

We decided to experiment and work out our own recipe. We took a wing recipe (and thank you, Cheyanne, for coming up with it) as our starting place. It’s been through a couple of iterations, but there’s still some work to be done. More on that below.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs chicken thighs – that’s 6-8 thighs, and you want want bone-in thighs with the skin, because part of the appeal is that crunchy skin.
  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tsp kosher sea salt
  • 1 tsp dry ranch dressing mix
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar

Preparation

  1. Combine all of the non-chicken ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Ideally, all of the sugar and salt will dissolve, but don’t sweat it if a few crystals are left.
  2. Put the chicken in a Ziploc bag, then pour the marinade over it. Press as much air as you can out of the bag, zip it closed, and put it in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. A couple of times during the marination, take the bag out and smoosh the contents around to redistribute the marinade across the bird.
  4. Preheat the oven to 320.
  5. You want some space under the chicken so it’s not sitting in its own fat while it cooks. We use a broiling pan, but a wire rack in a large skillet would do just as well. Make sure the chicken is skin side up.
  6. Cook for an hour (slightly less if the pieces of chicken are widely separated).
  7. Remove from oven and let stand for ten minutes. This will allow the skin to crisp up a bit more.

As I said above, this still needs some tweaking. The salt level is about right, but even thought we’ve almost doubled the vinegar, it still doesn’t have enough punch. We’re considering supplementing the marinade with a light dusting of dried vinegar just before the bird goes in the oven.

If anyone out there has other suggestions, we’d be delighted to hear them.

2 thoughts on “A Guilty Pleasure

  1. Oddly enough, there are people who do care and appreciate the issues and yet still can’t be bothered. I heard one 27 year old wander off into a weird riff about how we outsource our voting machines to Venezuela (I am not sure what he was getting at) and say the hackability of the system made him think it wasn’t worth bothering and “Clinton’s going to get it anyway.” (He lives in a state she carried, at least.) Another couple I know are Jehovah’s Witnesses and believe that when Jesus said “my kingdom is not of this world” he meant don’t participate in politics. I wonder how “vote or pay a fine” would affect people like this. I mean, you don’t have to tell your fellow Witnesses you voted (and if you see them at the polling place, you act the same way you would if you met your fellow parishioner in the porn shop, right?). And yes, they were dismayed at the outcome.

    I’m a vegetarian so I’m no help with your recipe, though I like salt and vinegar chips.

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    • That’s a good point. But realistically, people who fall into that “cared but didn’t vote” category are a tiny percentage of the electorate. For example, if Wikipedia can be trusted, there are around 8 million Jehovah’s Witnesses in the US. Even if all of them were otherwise eligible to vote, that’s still less than one percent of the non-voters.

      Don’t think your vote for president will be counted? Fine, skip that race. At least vote on the local matters that directly concern you. The chances that somebody in Venezuela (or Russia, or…) is hacking the votes for your school board are somewhere south of “slim”.

      Australia, by the way, accepts religious objections as a valid reason for not voting. But I imagine that if there wasn’t an exception, they could simply submit a blank ballot with a clear conscience.

      So yeah–but I’m sticking by my point here. If that much of the population can’t or won’t make the effort to vote at all, we’ve got a much bigger problem than a pair of wildly unpopular presidential candidates.

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