It's not often a cookbook makes you blush. But Fifty Shades of Chicken (Clarkson Potter, $19.99), with the steamy prose of a romance novel and photos of a ripped stud sprinkled throughout, turns up the heat in an altogether different way.
"Chicken thighs, stirred up and fried hard"? Forget food porn. We're talking poultry porn, complete with recipes. You'll never look at a trussed chicken the same way.
Inspired by the racy bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James, Fifty Shades of Chicken is the latest in parodies on the sexy trilogy that has women locking themselves in the bathroom to . . . read. Fifty Shades of Grey has spawned several send-ups, including Fifty Shames of Earl Grey, and begat a number of humorous readings on YouTube.
Besides clever writing with laugh-out-loud double entendres, Fifty Shades of Chicken offers 50 (of course) tempting recipes, among them Crunchy Chicken Parmesan Croquettes and Cranberry Baked Chicken With Apple Cider.
Publisher Clarkson Potter is cagey about the author's identity, but "FL Fowler" agreed to answer questions by email about poultry, sex and cooking. Here's what the author - writing under a nom de plumage it seems - had to say about the parody cookbook:
Are you a rooster or a hen? Will you divulge your name? If not, why not? Are you afraid your mother (or children) might read the book?
Neither rooster nor hen, nor unfortunately a spring chicken. And when it comes to sexing up the family dinner, a little discretion is probably wise.
What does FL stand for? And why no periods?
EL James didn't need periods, so neither did I. FL as in "Finger Lickin'."
Since you won't reveal your identity, will you tell us something about yourself?
I'm not saying the book is a memoir, but I have extensive culinary training and I've worked in the food industry for decades. And naturally, I adore chicken and all other fowl.
How is cooking like sex?
If you need to follow a recipe to the letter, you're not doing it right - go by feel. That's about the extent of it, despite what they might tell you on the Food Network.
Did you have a hand in selecting the male models in the book?
The publisher eventually had to ask me to keep my hands off the hunky model. So, not really.
How many times have you read Fifty Shades of Grey?
I read the whole trilogy a few times, because it seemed so eerily familiar. (Bad-boy protagonist) Christian Grey, where had I heard his voice? Ah yes - from just about every control-freak, food-obsessed chef I've ever met, male or female. I'm pretty sure a trussed chicken inspired the original books.
Some of the subheadings in the book are quite titillating. Are there some that were so risque that they didn't make it?
No, the worst ones I could think up are in the book.
Will you share your favorite recipe from the book?
Dripping Thighs. If you're too embarrassed to say the name in front of your family, you can always say you're making "roasted chicken thighs with melting onions." Then just smile mysteriously.
Janet K. Keeler can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8586. Follow her on Twitter at @roadeats.
* * *
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, patted dry with paper towels
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon plus pinch of coarse kosher salt
-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the chicken, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper together.
In a small saucepan, simmer together onion, wine, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and a pinch of salt until most of the liquid has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. Toss in the honey and butter.
Spoon the mixture over the chicken and toss well. Arrange thighs, onion mixture and any juices on a baking sheet. Bake until chicken is no longer pink and onions are meltingly tender and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Remove bay leaf before serving.
Source: Fifty Shades of Chicken by FL Fowler (Clarkson Potter, 2012)
* * *
Fifty Shades of Chicken
By FL Fowler
Clarkson Potter, 160 pages, $19.99