Sneezing Frog283,000 Scoville Units

Chicken Washing

When we lived in Vermont, it was traditional for us to do a holiday cookout on Labor Day with the Connors family. Typically, John Connors and I would do our "men in the kitchen" routine, while our families would look on in wonder. At least, it looked something like wonder.

We had recently watched an Alton Brown Good Eats episode on "low and slow" BBQ technique, and we had a very good homemade BBQ sauce recipe, so we resolved to cook up some chicken for the crew....I mean, it's simple, right, what could possibly go wrong.

While I was attending to the coals, John was tasked with making up the BBQ sauce, one of the ingredients of which was a small amount of hot sauce, to taste. Rummaging through my refrigerator, John discovered some Blair's Possible Side Effects sauce and figured, ok, this is hot sauce, in it goes.

Possible Side Effects

Possible Side Effects.  Hot.  Very, very hot.
Let's discuss this fine concoction for a moment.

The Scoville scale measures the hotness of a chili pepper; it's commonly used to express the relative hotness of a pepper sauce.

Tabasco red sauce scores between 2,500 and 5,000 Scoville Units.

Possible Side Effects scores 283,000.

A single drop of this stuff is enough to turn an otherwise ordinary gallon of water into something approximating paint thinner.

John used about three tablespoons of it.

This fact was, unfortunately, unknown to me as we proceeded to BBQ the chicken.

The Chicken of Pain

The kids were getting a bit hungry due to the "low and slow" cooking approach, and were quite ravenous when the chicken was finally ready. To ensure quality, we sampled the first breast to come off the grill.

Imagine if you will the afterburner of an F-15 going off in your mouth. Momentarily blinded, I nearly went into convulsions; what appeared at first to be tears was, in fact, my eyeballs sweating. It was indeed fortunate that I was near a sink with a spray attachment; this allowed me to direct the necessary volume of water directly into my mouth. As John had simultaneously sampled the Chicken of Pain, he too was feverishly scrambling for the sprayer, but I fought him off bravely.

So now, you're probably thinking well, the chicken was ruined, big deal, just run to the store and get more.

Ah, gentle reader, if that's what's going through your mind, then you haven't experienced the Labor Day holiday in Darkest Vermont. Stores aren't open. Heck, they close down the ER at the hospital. There was no way to obtain replacement chicken; we'd have to play the hand we'd been dealt.

That meant:
  • making up a new sauce, this time with appropriate supervision, oversight, and proper attention to the 'to taste' clause
  • washing the Sauce of Pain off of the chicken, then re-flavoring it with the new sauce
So we washed the chicken, relathered with sauce, and tried again.

The second test was an improvement much in the way that merely being clubbed with a lead pipe is an improvement over being hit by a train. Down to just incredibly hot, but still inedible. Clearly, a more serious scrubbing was in order.

We obtained a scrub brush normally used to remove the skins from potatoes, and proceeded to carefully sand the outer 1/8th of an inch from the nuclear chicken. We then, yet again, relathered with sauce, and rewarmed the chicken in the oven.

I'm not sure if the final result wasn't actually all that bad, or if we were by then hungry enough to have eaten anything.

It was quite some time before we were allowed to do our "men in the kitchen" routine again.

The recipe became known as "Al and John's Twice-Washed Chicken".