Maple-glazed chicken: it’s not me, it’s you

Maple glazed chicken - Food Network photo

Mmmm. (Photo credit: Food Network)

Sometimes when I cook things they come out like crap.  Observe: this seemingly-delicious recipe for maple-glazed chicken from the Food Network.  Looks good, no?  All stylized by professional food photographers and filled with yummy ingredients like maple syrup and fresh fall apples.  It had me at hello.  I bought the ingredients.  I thought about it all day at work… oh the possibilities!  The yumminess!  The satisfaction of making something delicious from scratch!  I left work all excited about my cooking adventure.  I chopped, I stirred, I seasoned, I simmered, and I took a bite… and it was… eh.  What a let-down, Food Network!  Come on, don’t leave a girl hanging like this.  Where are your manners?  GEEZ.

Oh wait, maybe it’s not you, Food Network… maybe it’s me.  Sorry, maybe I should take the blame.  After all, I’m still single at 31, so I’m probably doing something wrong, right?  Right???  Sigh.  But I followed instructions!  I let you watch football when I wanted to watch the Sex and the City movie.  I didn’t complain when you left the toilet seat up.  I even let you stare at my hot friend’s boobs.  Where did I go wrong, Food Network?  What did I do to make you shun me like this?  Let’s see if I can figure it out before I swear off all of your beautifully-photographed recipes forever…

It started out just like it always does… I went to the store, coughed up some cash, and brought home all these ingredients, just like you asked.  So much potential!  So much flavor!  Things were looking good.  I was in that early phase where I laughed at all your jokes and kept playing with my hair.

Maple glazed chicken - ingredients

I started chopping.  Oh, how I chopped!  I was so careful to take off that cruddy outer layer on the shallots.  I sliced the apples with such precision – such perfect slices!  I washed the sage and carefully plucked off each individual leaf from the stems.  I plucked my eyebrows right out of my forehead, one by one, with a bright light shining right in my eyes, all because I wanted to look my best for you.  Food Network, I was smitten.  I threw all my nicely-chopped ingredients into a pan and started simmering.  Our first date was underway, and I was all tingly with anticipation.

Maple glazed chicken - cooking

Next up: the maple glaze.  Mmmm… this promised to be the show-stopper.  I was ready for you to hold the door open for me and then take care of the bill for dinner while I was in the bathroom.  It was going to be magical.  I mixed up the maple syrup, chicken broth, and cider vinegar, and threw in a little salt for good measure.  I even busted out my whisk.  My WHISK, people!  Clearly I was going all out, really putting my best foot forward.  But alas, this date was going awry.  Something was wrong.  Just look at that glaze!  Flat and boring, no life, no excitement!  We had a staring contest over the bill before I finally whipped out my credit card and offered to pay for half.  And you let me.  Ouch, Food Network.  Ouch.

Maple glazed chicken - glaze

It was all downhill from there.  You drove me home and walked me to my door, and I stood there playing with my keys… waiting.  I poured your boring orange glaze onto my precious chicken and apples, and I waited.  My dinner was buried in a sea of glaze.  You told me to be patient, to wait for the glaze to reduce by three-fourths, all the while my food was swimming around instead of getting all crispy and delicious.  But I had faith… and I waited.  The glaze took forever to reduce.  The apples were starting to fall apart.  The shallots never got that caramelized burnt edge that I was craving.  Oh Food Network, you were just going to make me wait at my front door forever, weren’t you?

Maple glazed chicken - simmering with glaze

Well screw that.  I’m an independent woman who goes after what she wants.  I waited, and waited, and after I just couldn’t wait anymore, I went for it.  I stirred and stirred and finally the glaze boiled down.  Success!  Perhaps this date could be salvaged after all – I was going in for the goodnight kiss.  I had to at least give it a shot.  After all that waiting!  I scooped out some of this masterpiece and put it in a bowl, ready to serve.  I leaned in… I took a bite… my lips touched yours… and…

Maple glazed chicken - done

… I just didn’t feel it.  UGH.  Food Network, your beard was scratchy and your breath smelled awful.  Didn’t you have a mint after dinner?  Come on!  And don’t even get me started on your BO and questionable hand placement during the kiss.  This dish was too sweet (too much maple), way too chicken-y (needed some rice or veggies or something else to round it out), and lacking in flavor and color.  I also wasn’t crazy about the vinegar.  I did wind up eating an entire serving for dinner (after all, a kiss is still a kiss), but I probably won’t make it again.  Sorry, Food Network, I guess it’s back to browsing your eHarmony matches in your mother’s basement.

So after this highly scientific analysis, I sadly make the following conclusion:

Maple-glazed chicken: it’s not me, it’s you.  Sorry, babe.  Not gonna lie.

I guess not every cooking adventure is meant to be.  Oh well.  There are plenty of other recipes out there for me to pluck my eyebrows for.  : )

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