Challenge Recipe #1: Chicken With Gravy

A raw chicken and some raw vegetables and herbs

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.

28 thoughts on “Challenge Recipe #1: Chicken With Gravy

  1. 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.

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

  2. 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!

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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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