We’ve reached the entree in our dinner party with the 1980s Cardinals.
For those just joining us, I’ve been taking a literal approach to Hot Stove Season by cooking recipes from the two 1980s cookbooks, Cooking With the Cardinals, published by “the St. Louis Baseball Cardinals Wives.”
As for the entrees, I decided to try two different chicken recipes, one credited to Vince Coleman himself, the other to Terry Pendleton’s wife Catherine.
Vince Coleman’s Pineapple Chicken
Vince Coleman was one of my favorite players when I was a kid. I’d be surprised if there are any Cardinal fans in my age cohort who were not fascinated by the one-tool player. In 1985, the year Cooking With the Cardinals was published, he stole 107 bases and was caught only 14 times.
The cookbook notes Coleman as “one of the only bachelors on the Cardinals,” though he would be married and include recipes from his wife by the time Cooking With the Cardinals II was published. But in 1985, Vince was flying solo in the kitchen.
2 lbs chicken wings, disjointed, tips removed
1⁄2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 can crushed pineapple
Season chicken with garlic salt, pepper and paprika. Sprinkle with Worcestershire sauce and melted butter. Place chicken in an oblong baking dish. Marinate at least one hour or overnight in refrigerator. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Mix brown sugar with pineapple, pour mixture over chicken and bake 20 minutes longer.
The first thing that struck me when I looked at this recipe was that, in the tradition of bachelor cooking, there are almost no amounts for anything. The combination of wings in butter with some spice... it’s kind of in the ballpark of Buffalo wings, though in the mid 80s, I don’t know that those were really a thing outside upstate New York. Oh, and then there’s a can of pineapple. One thing I’ve learned from these cookbooks is that, in the 1980s, every recipe included a can of pineapple.
The flavor of these is good. The texture... could be improved. In a traditional Buffalo wing, the chicken is fried and then dredged in the wet butter/seasoning mixture. Here, between the butter marinade and all the liquid in the pineapple/brown sugar, the chicken skin never gets a chance to crisp up or brown, so the texture remains a little rubbery.
Catherine Pendleton’s Chicken Adobo
I’ve always harbored just a little bit of resentment toward Terry Pendleton. After seven solid but light-hitting years with the Cardinals, he signed as a free agent with the Braves, started hitting like crazy, and won the MVP in his first season in Atlanta. The next year, he finished 2nd in the MVP voting. As a Cardinal, he put up an 84 OPS+. In five seasons in Atlanta, aged 30-35, he put up a 107 OPS+.
He did nothing wrong, of course. This was basically just an example of resenting your Ex for becoming successful and happy. It didn’t help that Pendleton was part of that rising Braves dynasty at the same time the Cardinals were sinking to their lowest point in the last 35 years.
12 chicken thighs, cut in half
1⁄4 cup soy sauce
1⁄4 cup Teriyaki sauce
1⁄4 cup vinegar
1 medium onion, diced
4 medium bay leaves
1 Tbs oil
Saute onion in oil in 5-quart pot until onion is transparent. Add chicken thighs and cook for 15-20 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally. When chicken appears half-done, add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring every 5-10 minutes. Let boil for 20 minutes; then reduce heat, and simmer until chicken pulls away easily from the bone. Serve with white rice.
Catherine Grindulo Marquez attended high school and junior college with Terry Pendleton. They were married in 1984. But while she graduated from high school in California, it’s worth noting that she was born in the Philippines, where Chicken Adobo is essentially the national dish.
I make chicken adobo pretty regularly. And while many of the recipes in this cookbook seem a bit dated now, this is almost exactly the same adobo recipe I use. That’s not entirely surprising, because why mess with perfection? As Bon Appetit put it, Chicken Adobo is the greatest recipe of all-time.
Essentially, adobo (which can be used with meats other than chicken) involves marinading the meat in vinegar and soy sauce, then boiling it in the same liquid. The marinade becomes the braising liquid, and reduces to a delicious sauce. It’s a beautiful, economical recipe.
I was a bit confused by the “12 chicken thighs cut in half.” I used chicken thighs as they come from the grocery store, and found any more than six was going to overcrowd the dutch oven I was cooking in.
In my usual adobo recipe, I’m left with a bit more liquid in the pot, which I then reduce a bit before pouring over as the sauce. Catherine Pendleton’s recipe uses a bit less liquid, and the result was a perfectly thick sauce as soon as cooking was done.
Both of these recipes worked and tasted good, but the chicken adobo was the clear winner. In fact, I think I will make this my go-to adobo recipe from now on.