07 April 2007

Parrot, Three Ways

Parrot with Artichoke, Sun-Dried Tomato, and White Wine

Roasted Parrot with Orange Blossom Honey Glaze

Parrot Baked in Coconut Curry Sauce

It is a sunny April morning in Chicago. The outside temperature is below freezing, but that doesn’t matter to me when I am snuggled up in my covers, delighted to be sleeping in past 5 AM.
I listen to the happy songbirds chirping outside, grateful that there are trees outside our bedroom window so that the birdies can hop around and awaken us with their melodies. Insert contented sigh.
Suddenly a deathly silence settles over the morning. Why did the little birdies stop their beautiful song?

“EEK EEEEEKKK EEEEEKK EK EKEK EKKKKKK!” The calmness is shattered. A flash of green darts past the window, and then another, and I know that the parrots have awakened. Once they are up, there will be no more cheerful warbling from the songbirds for the rest of the day...only the incessant squabbling of the wild monk parakeets that live in our neighborhood.

The parakeets are an amazing example of a transplant species that has flourished in an urban area. Originally from Argentina, the beautiful yet annoying birds were transported to the States in large numbers to be kept as pets. Difficult to train, unsatisfied owners released them into the wild, and their population has been growing in Hyde Park and the surrounding areas since the 70’s. Read more about them here and here.

The parakeets are harmless, as there are no wheat fields or vegetable crops to which the birds pose a significant threat. They are a welcome splash of color during our drab winters, and I give the little boogers credit for surviving our tough winters. But come springtime, their inconsiderate clamor really gets on my nerves. If I wanted to feel like I lived in a zoo, I would work at a junior high. Oh wait, I already do. Ummmm.......

Just like the seventh graders I teach, the parakeets get rather ruffled when I tell them shut the hell up because they are annoying the shit out of me, and then they only squawk louder.* But I am smarter than my seventh graders. I know how to outwit them. I can’t just tell them to be quiet and expect them to mindlessly obey me. I need to find a reason for them to be quiet.
The reason is fear.
Fear that I will eat them.

Therefore, I have prepared three recipes with which I can threaten the parrots and strike fear into the cores of their hollow little bones. The first three photographs above have been printed out, laminated, and glued to the end of three long sticks.** Next time the green devils start up their hullabaloo, I will choose one of the three sticks, dangle it off my back porch, and wave it front of their beady little eyes so they can get a close look at their future.

I don’t think the birds are smart enough to know that the photographs are chicken meat, or that I have no intention of capturing them and eating them. As long as they are afraid, they will be stunned into silence, and I will have my peace and quiet.

Message for PETA: Stay away, I’m only joking! I would never eat a parrot or a seventh grader!

Roasted Parrot with Orange Blossom Honey
~adapted from Charlie Trotter, friend of birds
1 cup orange blossom honey
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 3-4 pound parrot (or a few small parakeets, whatever you can catch)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

The honey glaze creates a deliciously crispy skin. Even if you don't eat the skin, prepare it this way, and the meat underneath remains moist and flavorful.

Place honey and stock in small saucepan and whisk over medium heat for 5 minutes, until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place bird in roasting rack in a roasting pan and season with salt and pepper. Generously brush the glaze all over the parrot and roast for 45 - 60 minutes, or until the juices run clear (if using smaller birds, less time will be needed). Brush on additional glaze every 15 minutes during the roasting. Remove from oven, let rest for 10 minutes, then carve.

Parrot Baked in Coconut Curry Sauce
~adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons red curry paste
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless parrot breast halves
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 small yellow squash, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup diagonally cut green onions
4 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 lime wedges

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl, stir with a whisk and set aside.
Pound parrot breasts into even thickness between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over bird.
Spread out 4 (16x12-inch) sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. In the middle of one sheet, place 1/4 of the the vegetables (not the cilantro or lime). Lay 1 parrot breast half over the vegetables, and cover with 3 tablespoons of the coconut mixture. Fold foil over the bird and vegetables; tightly seal edges.
Repeat with remaining sheet of foil.
Place packets on a baking sheet. Bake for 22 minutes, remove from oven, and let sit for 4 minutes. Unfold carefully to avoid being burned by the steam. Sprinkle with cilantro and lime, over a bed of jasmine rice.

Parrot with Artichokes and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
~Fancy Toast original recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 cup white wine

1 pound parrot tenders (or chicken tenders)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 oz. jar artichokes
4 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, sliced thinly
juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper the parrot tenders on each side.
In a Dutch Oven or a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
Cook the chicken until just browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside on a plate.
Add the shallots to the now-empty pan and cook until tender, about 4 minutes.
Add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the wine and scrape off any browned bits from the bottom.
Return the bird to the pan, along with the artichokes and tomatoes.
Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the bird is cooked all the way through, about 10 minutes.
Remove the parrot/chicken from the pan and tent with foil to keep warm. If the sauce is too thin, increase the heat until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency.
Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.
Spoon sauce and vegetables over the bird. Sprinkle with parsley.

*Disclaimer #1: Lest you think I am a disgruntled and frustrated teacher, I want you to know that I have never told any my students to shut up, or that they were annoying the shit out of me.
**Disclaimer #2: Lest, you think I am crazy, I didn't really print out those photographs and laminate them and glue them to the end of three long sticks. I hope you believe me.


tammy said...

Parrot tenders. Hee!

Jess said...

Sure, I believe you. ;-)

Except that I kind of like the parakeets, even when they're loud.

But I do like poultry.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Oh dear, way too funny. At first, I thought you had really eaten parrots. I wondered how you could afford such a luxury! Then I read a bit, and I thought, she caught wild parakeets! They're small, and seem like more trouble than they're worth. HA!

I think I may try one of these recipes, if I can catch me a chicken at the butcher shop. ;)

Carolyn T said...

Oh my goodness, your post today is so LOL funny! I can only identify with several summers ago when a mocking bird lived at night in a tree near our bedroom door (which in the heat we had to leave open to get some air circulation). He'd start his warbling at about 1 am, and would go for HOURS and HOURS. It drove me absolutely stark-raving crazy. I kept dreaming up things I could do to him. We tried throwing things at the tree (he'd be quiet for 10 minutes), hitting the tree with water (this in our pajamas standing in our backyard) all the time cussing and swearing. So, I can appreciate your annoyance. Hope your recipes work.

Lucy said...

I kinda wish that you had laminated the images and stuck them on a stick.

That's the kind of thing I would do...

rob said...

Thanks for the laugh. Your roasted parrot with the orange blossom honey glaze is gorgeous, by the way. It has a perfect lacquered look. Might I suggest you capture a couple of these birds, feed them continuously, and rid yourself of a pest while creating a loophole around Chicago's foie gras ban? Can parrot foie be all that bad?

Victoria said...

PARROTS! I'm scared. I have an inane fear of birrds. *shudders* the curry looks yummy though!

mae said...

The title got me wide eyed! So funny! They all look tasty.

Kristen said...

I started reading and could not believe that you prepared parrot! You got me from the beginning!
Too funny!

Erielle said...

Tammy, glad I made you giggle.

Jess, I mostly like the parakeets, too, even when they're loud. I only get annoyed when I would rather listen to the songbirds.

J, I wonder how much parrot meat would cost, if people even sell it. I also wonder if it tastes like coconuts.

Thanks Carolyn! Silly mockingbird. Your story makes me so happy that our parrots don't squawk in the middle of the night.

Lucy, my only excuse is that I don't own a laminator. Although...there is one where I work...I wonder if anyone would give me weird looks.

Rob, ha, that's funny. Parrot foie. I wonder if it's ever been done...
The orange blossom honey glazed chicken is delicious with sweet potato purée.

Victoria, does the sound of wings flapping give you the shivers? I freak out when I hear pigeons flapping. Gross.

Mae, gotcha!

Kristen, wow, it worked! I'm glad.

mamasutra said...

Here for the first time via apartment therapy, and that post was awesome! I teach 7th grade as well and think that your comparison between them and the birds is quite apt..."fear that I will eat them": tee hee!

rachel said...

you scared me! i have a little parrot and when i read the recipe names i thought of someone killing him and started getting teary eyed. thank god it was really chicken!

they are noisy suckers so i can see your frustration if you have no choice in the matter and they just show up outside your house.

s'kat said...

Lol! Colourful little bastards.

Terry B said...

What a great post! Glad to hear the parrots are still alive and well in Hyde Park, even if they are annoying.

We get down your way a few times a year, usually to go to the Oriental Institute and maybe the Smart Museum--okay, and to eat at Medici's. Whenever we do, I almost feel as if we're not in Chicago anymore--in a good way. It feels like we're getting away for a bit.

mis said...

Hey, do you think I could replace the parrot meat for squirrel meat??!! You so crazy!!!!! ;-o

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I just came back to check your blog, to see if there was something new...and the honey glazed parrot reminded me of a recipe I used to have, but can't find, for something very similar, except that in the pan with the chicken, erm, parrot, you also roast cherry tomatoes. Totally yummy, and I'm totally making that for dinner! :)

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

btw, I seem to remember that parrots are mighty expensive, like hundreds and hundreds of dollars, so I'm guessing it's not practical to eat them around here. Maybe in Brazil? Or Hyde Park? ;)

Erielle said...

Mamasutra, we must maintain a decent sense of humor when dealing with that age, right?

Rachel, sorry for the scare! I'm glad you figured out I was kidding before you got mad and left the site.

S'kat, thanks!

Terry, I agree. It's so quiet down here (except for the parrots), that sometimes it doesn't feel like the city at all. Mmmmmm Medici's. Have you ever had their espresso milkshakes?

Mis, I so crazy! I definitely think you could replace the parrot meat with squirrel meat. The skin might not come out as crispy golden, but it's worth a try. I'm guessing the squirrels bug you at your place?

J, that sounds real yummy. I love it when those little tomatoes are roasted. And no, I don't think parrot is the practical way to go here. But as long as the parrots think I want to eat them, then they will be scared of me and leave me alone.

chef yum yum said...

Last spring I would wake up to two pigeons, ahem, getting it on, on my window sill.




Starting at about parrot o'clock, i.e. 4:30am or so.




It was very loud and very, very disturbing. I would get up and bang on the window, but it never mad a difference.
Too bad cooking pigeons seems almost as gross as pigeon sex.

harriet said...

I just made the Parrot baked in Coconut Curry Sauce for dinner, although I was forced to substitute the more plebian chicken breasts for the parrot, as I was unsuccessful in my attempts at luring parrots to the suburbs from Hyde Park. Nevertheless, it was delicious. I added some basil to the sauce, which I liked as well.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

E, I'm making the artichoke recipe tonight...are these marinated artichokes, or just canned? We don't have any 6oz cans of packed in water type artichokes at our store, so I wasn't sure. I bought both, thinking the plain made more sense, and I can always use the marinated kind in a salad...but the marinated kind sound kind of yummy in this dish, too. What do you think?

BTW, I made the honey one, totally forgot to add my tomatoes, and boy, was it yummy!

Erielle said...

Chef Yum Yum, that happened to me once, with the pigeons on the windowsill. Except that it infiltrated my dreams, and it wasn't pigeons in my dreams, oh no. That was weird.

Harriet, basil sounds great! And I bet chicken tastes better than parrot, anyway.

J, I use the marinated artichokes, because that's usually that's all I can find. If the marinade seems a little too pungent, I rinse them off in water. I hope you get this by the time you make dinner and I hope it's yummy!

aria said...

parrots in chicago!? now i've heard it all. all three recipes look delicious but the honey glazed parriot looks flawless. mmmmm!

Maman said...

Haha! Yes, those squawking little bastards can be a pain... I love watching them fly down the middle of 53rd street.

Christina said...

We've got the parrots here too. Thanks for giving me a mean of threatening them!

Anonymous said...

This post made me laugh out loud, especially that disclaimer to PETA!

Ari (Baking and Books)

Erielle said...

Aria, it's crazy, isn't it? I almost don't believe it myself, even when I am looking right at them.

Maman, the flashes of green are pretty exciting. There used to be a bunch of nests in the northern end of Nichols Park, but I haven't seen them lately. I wonder if the nests got torn down. And if the parrots inside were eaten.

Christina, glad to help!

Ari, I'm happy you enjoyed the post.

Anonymous said...

Being a parrot owner I was very offended. Offended so much I am losing sleep and having nightmares therefore seeking legal means of getting this removed and seeking pain and suffering compensation.

Anonymous said...


Rory said...

Very tasty indeed! Although it took me very long to shoot enough of them to feed three people. Great recipie

Blake said...

Hah! I have parrots for pets and I now have this bookmarked for the next time one of them gets all wound up and noisy for no good goddamned reason. Next time he acts up, I will bring him to the computer and pull these up and show him what COULD happen if he doesn't shut the hell up!

Anonymous said...

This is almost as funny as the joke you gave us for President...or your Mayor. You Chicagoans have a really refined sense of humor.