While sitting in the wreckage leftover from a dinner party the other night and cunningly evading clean-up efforts, we ended up re-watching Altman‘s "3 Women," which, while as fantastically creepy and compelling as always, also struck us, this time around, as one of the more memorable (if utterly unappetizing) food films.
The tendency of Shelley Duvall‘s Millie to unconsciously parrot lines from women’s magazines in everyday conversation doesn’t hold up well now that it’s become a smug signifier of modern shallowness ("Wash your hair once/Every two weeks!/Once/Every two weeks!"), but her fetishizing of frightening prefab recipes does. The scene in which she flutters around the kitchen, precisely lining up pigs-in-a-blanket as if preparing the dish for a beige-tinged cookbook photo shoot, sums up the inscrutable incompleteness of her character â€” as if eating were something she could only understand from the outside, from a desperate study of back issues of McCall’s. And there are the godawful individual jars of shrimp cocktail, one of which Sissy Spacek spills on herself â€” and later, in Millie’s nightmare, we see her playing dead on the floor in the same dress (slayed by shrimp cocktail!).
And then there’s Penthouse Chicken, which makes it’s way into Millie’s constant, ignored stream-of-chatter/consciousness: "It takes a whole hour to cook, but it’s worth it!" And who could turn down an endorsement like that?
* 2 lb. chicken parts
* 1/4c. seasoned flour
* shortening or salad oil
* 1/2 medium green pepper, cut in strips
* 1/2c. sliced onion
* 1/8 to 1/4t. thyme, crushed
* 1 (10 1/2oz) condensed tomato soup
* 1/4c. water
* 1t. vinegar
1. Dust chicken with seasoned flour. Brown in skillet in hot shortening.
2. Cover; cook over low heat 45 minutes. Uncover last 10 minutes to crisp.
3. Remove chicken to heated platter; keep warm. Pour off all but 2T. fat.
4. Add green pepper, onion, and thyme; cook until green pepper is tender.
5. Add remaining ingredients. Heat; stir now and then. Serve over chicken.
6. Servings: 4 to 6
+ Penthouse Chicken (RecipeCircus.com)