Everyone agreed. If you are going to make Vincent Price’s Tropical Chicken, you’d better get yourself to a funfair that has a coconut shy. Because the coconuts you get from Waitrose are TOO SMALL to contain a whole chicken breast when chopped in half and hollowed out.
If you read a lot of cooking blogs, you may have the impression that the people who write them really know what they are talking about. Not so round here. Let me reveal a few things before we begin.
1 – I have never purchased a coconut before. A whole coconut. Not desiccated coconut or flaked or milked or whatever, a whole coconut.
2 – I had no idea how to deal with aforementioned coconut when I got hold of it (well, three of them actually).
3 – I have never seen the inside of a papaya.
4 – I had to ask Battenburg Belle to bring the following things when she came round to join us for dinner
- A meat cleaver
- A screwdriver
- A hammer
- A jar of coconut milk just in case
5 – I drank a LOT of beer and wine before trying to construct Vincent Price’s Tropical Chicken – this was not a good idea
I was SO EXCITED about meeting Taryn from the wonderful Retro Food For Modern Times. We have been blog-chums for years and years and years, so when I heard she was coming over to London from Melbourne I wanted to cook something really special, that would be a bit of a challenge, and we could work on together. For some crazy reason I chose this (yes, those are melon balls).
It was not my best work. But, we had a lot of fun nevertheless. I bought a melon baller just for this dish, and luckily Taryn knew how to use it. Her fella Mark stepped up to the plate for coconut duty. Here’s us using the screwdriver technique…
And then going to it with the cleaver…
Let’s just draw a veil over the fact that I was too drunk to make coconut milk from the insides of the coconuts, that I forgot to flour the chicken pieces before frying them in butter, omitted to add extra coconut milk to the sauce before serving, and didn’t sprinkle over some coconut flakes. I overcooked the broccoli too.
BUT. When three food bloggers get together there is much hilarity and (I hope) the food doesn’t really matter. Me, Taryn and Battenberg Belle posed with the hammer, the meat cleaver and the melon baller and the conversation around the table was excellent.
Here’s a snippet. We were discussing beef cheeks. Mark said he wouldn’t want to eat cheeks, pointing to his face. I was a bit perplexed by this and said: “Oh, I thought beef cheeks were bum cheeks.” Ha ha! The conversation then turned to cod cheeks, which apparently used to be cheap until chefs started making them all fancy. Mark said: “I like cod, but I don’t want to eat its face.” Taryn wondered whether eating its face was any worse than eating its arse, and Battenberg Belle asked how you would find a cod’s arse anyhow.
Going over this all again now, I realise that I was not the only person who had drunk a lot of wine. Taryn and Mark’s visit ended TOO SOON and as they left I was apologising about my rubbish dinner. Taryn said that it is always nice when someone cooks for you, whatever they make, and I love her for that. I only wish I’d made something GOOD.
I wouldn’t really recommend Vincent’s Tropical Chicken, even the version of it I made for me, myself and I the day after Taryn’s visit when sober. This wasn’t what I saw in my mind’s eye when I first thought about cooking it…
but, if you fancy having a go at it, just get in touch via the Contact Page and I’ll send over the recipe…
It was soooooooooo lovely hanging out with Taryn in real life for an afternoon and evening. I only wish she lived round the corner in Muswell Hill rather than on the other side of the world in Melbourne. I am sure we would get up to all kinds of mischief…
This was WONDERFUL! The videos of opening the coconuts were hilarious! (Hint: After draining, which Mark did well…a screwdriver through the “eye” of the coconut…hold the coconut in one hand and use a hammer or mallet to gently tap the coconut repeatedly in a continuous line around the circumference while rotating it…it cracks effortlessly in less than 30 seconds.) I only learned this a couple of years ago, but you’ll never believe how easy it really is.
How lucky for you and BB to share such a wonderful evening with Taryn and Mark! The bonds we make with fellow bloggers all over the world are truly special.
We felt so lucky to have Taryn here in London and to get to spend time with her and Mark. You are so right about the special bonds we create with fellow bloggers. If you’d told me 10 years ago that I’d make REAL FRIENDS through the internet I never would have believed it. When are YOU coming over?!
Top tip about cracking the coconut. I have two and a half coconuts left, so before I give BB her hammer and screwdriver back, I will give it a go…
Daft question, but are you supposed to use old coconuts? We do a Bengali dish at home that involves putting chicken marinated in mustard oil into coconuts, which are then baked gently for a couple of hours, but for that you use the young coconuts, the sort often sold as ‘for drinking’. (You can get them in Asda or Thai groceries: https://groceries.asda.com/product/exotic-fruit/blue-river-koko-young-coconut/910003082134) It’s much easier to get into those.
Jenny, it was a wonderful night! Thank you so much for your very generous hospitality, I only hope I can return the favour sometime. And I think you are being way too harsh on the food. The chicken was lovely, the sauce was divine and your purple corn bread was delicious. Much love and many thanks for such a great time! (Great post too)
Ah Taryn, you are so kind! It really was a super fun afternoon, hope to see you in Melbourne (or who knows where?) sometime soon xx
Ooooh MIM – you might have a point… Thanks for that info…