Challenge Recipe #1: Chicken With Gravy

Chicken with gravy is a favorite meal in my household. It’s also fairly easy to prepare, which makes it the perfect recipe with which to start this series (in case you missed the announcement earlier today, I’ll be posting recipes here from my upcoming book, To Serve Cats: Yes, It’s a Cookbook, But It’s Not Like the One in That Twilight Zone Episode and challenging my readers to try them).

Let’s start with the basics. The first step to attempting this — or any — recipe is to prepare your mise en place, or workspace. It’s really quite simple: find a suitable work surface, clear away any excess clutter, and gather the ingredients and tools you’ll need. The next three pictures were taken as I prepared my mise en place for this recipe.

A raw chicken and some raw vegetables and herbs

First, find a suitable workspace. Choose a surface at a comfortable height, with adequate space and lighting.

An empty table

Next, clear away any excess clutter.

A can of cat food, two cat dishes, and a fork.

Finally, gather the ingredients and tools you’ll need for your recipe.

Chicken with Gravy (serves 2)

1 5.5 oz (156 g) can high-quality chicken-flavored cat food. Note: you can substitute low-quality cat food, but the result won’t be as good.
2 small dishes
1 fork
1 can opener (optional)

1. Open the can of cat food (use the optional can opener if the can requires it).
2. Using the fork, transfer half of the food from the can into one of the dishes.
3. Using the fork, transfer the remaining food from the can into the other dish.
4. Serve immediately.

This is how it turned out:

Chicken with Gravy, ready to serve

The verdict: both Holly and Thunder rated this recipe as “worth waking a human at 5am for”.

Taste-testers Holly and Thunder, hard at work

Taste-testers Holly and Thunder, hard at work

A final note: the most challenging part of this recipe is selecting the right commercial cat food. Here’s what I used:

A can of "Paw Lickin' Chicken" flavored cat food.

When selecting a commercial cat food, be sure to read the label carefully.

You can tell a lot about a cat food by reading the label. For example, the label pictured here tells us that the flavor name is Paw Lickin’ Chicken, which is a pretty clear indication that it’s made by a company that cares more about the quality of its food than about marketing. If they’d gone through a formal marketing process with meetings and focus groups, someone would have pointed out that Paw Lickin’ Chicken is a horrible name for a cat food flavor: cats typically don’t eat with their paws, so their paw-licking behavior isn’t influenced by how much they enjoy their meals. Because the flavor name is so bad, we can conclude that the company has its priorities straight and that the food is probably pretty good. Wait — does that mean it’s a good flavor name? I may need to rethink this. In the meantime, read the label. I’m sure there are ingredient lists and stuff on the other side.

And in case you missed the earlier announcement — you’re invited to join the Unlikely Explanations Recipe-a-Week Challenge. Just a) obtain a cat, b) prepare this recipe, c) feed it to your cat, and d) add a comment here describing your experiences and your cat’s reaction.

Update: the next recipe in this series is now available.

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Posted in Humor
28 comments on “Challenge Recipe #1: Chicken With Gravy
  1. corianne says:

    This is an interesting recipe. Could I substitute dog food? I don’t know how well cat food would go over at my house.

  2. Binky says:

    What, no desert? Do they have cake in a can? I am a very good can opener (no jokes, please; I mean an opener of cans, not an actual can opener), and as such prefer all my recipes to be canned. Plus I think the tinny taste imparted by the cans add an element of elegance to any meal.

  3. shreejacob says:

    omg you had me fooled!! LOL!

    Brilliantly funny!

  4. I hate you a little bit for thinking of this before I did. I’m really good at giving compliments.

  5. aquatom1968 says:

    Laura, you make it sound so easy, I want to go and get myself a cat to try it out… and you chose great photogenic carrots!

    • Laura says:

      Thanks — I actually bought the carrots that had the nicest looking greens, but then wound up cutting them off for the picture anyway.

  6. quirkyloon says:


    Are you sure you’re not Jessica Simpson in disguise?

    What’s the best Tuna
    You happen to see
    Blah, blah, blah, blah
    Chicken of the Sea!

  7. […] wrote a post called A Change of Focus. Which should be read together with her follow-up post Challenge Recipe #1: Chicken With Gravy. Laura always has a funny and unusual take on things, but this is one of her funniest […]

  8. OK, the sequence of photos you used for preparing your mise en place made me laugh out loud. Simple visual humour? Yes. Awesome? Yes!

    I think there’s definitely a market for recipes as simple as this one too. I tried it and it only took about 40 seconds to prepare. Even my ‘microwave tomato soup’ recipe can’t achieve those levels of laziness in preparation!

    • Laura says:

      I’ve actually done extensive research into microwave tomato soup, and it turns out that the trick is to take it out of the can first. I learned that lesson the hard way.

  9. ajg says:

    You’re lucky your cats don’t like beef, because if you have to buy an entire frozen cow as a comedic prop then it gets to be less productive.

  10. […] join in? Simply a) acquire a cat, b) prepare one of these recipes (or last week’s recipe for Chicken with Gravy), c) feed the result to your cat, and d) post your experiences here. Or share your own Feline […]

  11. […] to do something special for your cats on Valentine’s Day? Serve them a lovely homemade chicken and gravy dinner and give them a nice gift, like a CatSofa or a Squeaker 3000 Robotic Toy Mouse. Share […]

  12. Anonymous says:

    You had me going there for a moment, Laura!

  13. Brigitte says:

    Above comment was from me!

  14. jbw0123 says:

    Um… Yum? Very funny! Passing this on to my neighbor’s cat.

  15. susielindau says:

    Hilarious! That’s what you call the “bait and switch!”
    Love the title of your cookbook too, but it may have to be in really small print…
    Thanks for bringing your “April Fool” to the party! Have fun clicking on links and “mingling” with the guests!

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I have some publications in other places, including short stories at Shimmer, Flash Fiction Online, and Daily Science Fiction, and a list of overly-wordy LOLCat captions on McSweeney's.

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