The Old Magoo

– Say, look, you had steak again yesterday, didn’t you?
– And today, chicken Maryland.
– Oh, brother.
– How do you work it?
– You gotta use the old magoo, Jeff.
– That’s all. The old magoo.
– The old magoo.

Some of you may recognize this quote from ‘Christmas in Connecticut.’ If you don’t, stop what you’re doing right now and rent it (although, it’s equally worth a buy too)! It’s truly a classic and the first instance of my hearing of such a dish as Chicken Maryland. CiC is a Barbara Stanwyk treasure about a talented food writer who doesn’t actually cook! A cast of dear friends, and one would-be lover, all conspire to help her; but a hapless incident of a marooned sailor at Christmastime upsets their little charade and threatens to expose her to her boss. It’s a sweet, sentimental film from 1945 and I highly recommend it!

I estimate that about 50% of my culinary inspiration stems from old films or TV shows. I was the girl who loved the old-school entertainment growing up and admired the polished and “perfect” portrayal of women like Samantha Stevens or June Cleaver. I even enjoyed the undoing of it all in Pleasantville as ironic as that seems. I am an “old soul” I guess…

So it comes as no surprise that hearing about Chicken Maryland not only intrigued me, but caused me to file that one away in my mental “To Make” list all those years ago. Fast forward to this week and I finally ticked this on off my list. Not only was I able to tick it off my list, but I used my vintage copy of The Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook to do so! Check and check!

As in every established dish, there exist a variety of recipes/techniques/methods of preparation, but the overarching theme is delicately dredged chicken pieces (I broke down my own bird, thank you very much!) fried/partially steamed in an unctuous combination of bacon bacon fat and water in a heavy skillet. After the cooktime has elapsed, the chicken is removed and the remaining sauce receives a deluge of heavy cream and is simmered and whisked until combined. What bubbles up is a lovely cream gravy. Thinner than most other gravies, but packs just as much flavor to which one is accustomed.

Bathing the chicken in that creamy, tan gravy in the end just layers on the flavor that much more! We eased the heaviness of the dish with a salad of baby arugula & spinach blend. The pepperiness if the arugula and the earthiness of the spinach created greater levels of savoriness to cut through the creamy, fattiness that has a habit of coating the palate and mitigating the other flavors of the dish. Brightness is introduced from sweet and acidic punctuations of dried cranberries and David’s Unforgettables Balsamic Vinaigrette.

What is one of your dream gotta-create-it meals?

Currently Reading: The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business by Christopher Leonard


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