Brittny Cook is a Theatre and Computer Science major at the University of Colorado Boulder. You can follow her on instagram @brittny.cook.99 or find some beautiful (not chicken covered) jewelry at her website cookiesandcream.origamiowl.com
The first thing I learned about college was this: don’t listen to you mom.
I’m kidding. That’s not what you need to do. Please, listen to you mom. She should be right under God, or whatever it is that you find holy. Unless it comes to chicken- specifically, of the frozen variety.
I am a transfer student. My first year at college was done in my hometown, where I lived in the same house that I was ushered into as a three-year-old. Unlike most college freshman (or whatever I technically was at the time), I did not get the whole “dorm” experience. I didn’t have to worry about how I was gonna get away with making ramen in my dorm room or scheduling dinner time in with my class schedule. Food was always pretty easy for me to obtain (as long as I went home to eat it).
This also means that I went through quite a jump when I moved into an apartment with 4 roommates 5 hours away from home. My car’s parking spot is one mile away from my apartment, and the cheapest grocery store is a mile in the other direction. This leaves me with two options: the public transportation system (aka bus), or ordering groceries.
One of my roommates and I tried the bus thing. Never again.
I was running out of food after our first, mildly disastrous, grocery run and decided to try out this whole delivery grocery thing. (I would highly recommend this if you don’t like interacting with people and you have a work-at-home job. You can get all of your food and not interact with a soul. This is probably a poor life choice, though. People are good for mental health.)
The only real issue with ordering groceries online is that you don’t actually know what size you’re getting. So, after a few hours and the hanging of Christmas lights, I went downstairs to meet the holder of the groceries and let her to the fourth floor, where she promptly placed the bags on my counter and left. As it turns out, I ended up with two giant packages of monstrous chicken breasts. I am a small 19-year-old female. What on earth was I going to do with this much chicken?
I did what any 19-year-old living away from home for the first time would do. I called my mother. My mother told me what, I imagine, most mothers would say, “Just put in in the freezer.” So, I did. I threw both of these giant packages of meat into the freezer, and didn’t think twice about it.
On Tuesday, September 4, 2018 I decided that I was going to make a casserole. The first step in this casserole was to boil some boneless chicken breasts to shred. Seeing that I had giant chicken breasts on my hands, I did what any 19-year-old living away from home for the first time would do. I called my mother.
A little while later, I called my mother again:
Me: “Mom. The chicken is frozen.”
Mom: “Just run it under some cold water, it should come right off.”
Me: “It isn’t.”
Mom: “It should.”
Me: “Well, it isn’t. The chicken is frozen solid, and its stuck to that paper-bag-thingy in the back.”
Mom: “The water isn’t doing anything?”
Me: “No, mom. The chicken is literally fused together.”
And, it was. I could not tell where one chicken breast ended and the other one started. It was a five pound mass of crunchy white ice and swollen, fleshy pink that could pass for a baby if you swaddled it tight enough due to its sheer size alone.
So, now, I am standing at the sink intently focused on defrosting this chicken. I am making the water temperature fluctuate between hot and cold. Chicken juices are flowing all over my hands and into the sink, and occasionally having to shift awkwardly as my roommate needs to access the water. The package wrapper has been ripped off and sits on the other end of the counter, farthest away from said roommate. My roommate who is vegan.
I am hungry. I am determined. I am disgusting. My greasy hands are now beginning to peel off the paper layer behind the chicken. Slowly but surely, I am working the pieces of chicken into single breasts again. The bag molded to the chicken begins to grow mushy, and begins to detach.
Just as I am feeling triumphant over the five pound chicken baby, the bag bursts. The substance in this bag leaks out over my hand in the slushy consistency of melting snow and ice in a Southern Colorado winter. I will never see snow the same way again.
This battle continued for far too long. Eventually the bag, broken in various places, came out in my hands. I set down the chicken as neatly as I could manage and pulled down various grocery sacks where I put the bag of mush. After washing my hands I carted the slimy mess to the dumpster where its life of torment would end.
The door to my apartment closed behind me. I washed my hands and triumphantly put the free chicken in the pot to boil. What was left of the chicken, I put in a ziplock bag. I relocated the second package of chicken to the bottom drawer of the fridge where it lived until it defrosted enough I could bag and (safely) refreeze the chicken. The countertops, and myself, will eternally be grateful for the disinfectant wipes and cleaning supplies under the sink.
I will never try to follow advice without getting all of it first. I will always ask questions. I will never try to defrost five pounds of chicken in the sink.
And, never, am I going to freeze chicken without bagging it separately first.