You’ve probably already seen and laughed about it. Hell, you might even still be laughing about the 31-second clip where Oprah tastes a $1 million-winning chicken recipe, only to be shocked that the dish is devoid of salt and pepper. Oprah handles the situation with cordial grace — she is, after all, Oprah — but her eyes tell us another story. It’s a tale as old as time and fits neatly into the whole “white people can’t handle spices” narrative that is so popular right now (though we POC have been making fun of that sh*t forever).
Unfortunately, the response is at least semi-bullshit. I don’t mean to say that white people can handle spices, though some certainly can (‘sup Texas), I mean that Anna Ginsberg’s recipe is not completely devoid of salt and pepper. Hell, I don’t even know if we can say for sure that Oprah didn’t like it. Yes, out of context we can draw those conclusions, but once we see the full clip, that all changes.
It seems no one stopped to wonder just how a seemingly flavorless dish won a million-freaking-dollar contest in the first place. Because it wouldn’t.
In truth, Ginsberg was the winner of the annual Pillsbury Bake-Off contest in 2006 for her “Baked Chicken and Spinach Stuffing.” The parameters of the challenge were that she had to implement two eligible Pillsbury products in her dish, and she chose Pillsbury Dunkables Waffle Sticks and Green Giant frozen spinach. The recipe and clip show that the chicken is first basted in maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, and *gasp* salt and pepper and then baked in the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 mins. Certainly doesn’t sound flavorless to us. The stuffing consists of toasted Dunkables, butter, onions, chicken broth, sage, and poultry seasoning, all sauteed together and finally combined with spinach and egg-whites to keep it bound. Pretty standard, but not particularly bland-sounding either.
So what happened? Well, who knows. Ginsberg didn’t prepare what Oprah was eating, so we could trace the problem to possible mishandling of the recipe. But perhaps tasting the chicken with the stuffing was integral to pulling the flavors of the dish together — a part that was conveniently left out of the 31-second clip. Once Oprah takes a bite of the full dish, she exclaims, mouth full of food “Oh, it’s really good with this!” Maybe that’s just tact. Maybe she really liked it. We’ll likely never know.
Only Oprah can truly say if she thought Ginsberg’s $1 million winning chicken recipe was any good, but given full context and the recipe, the outcome is probably not exactly in line with the one the internet ran with. There were, however, some truly great reactions to the video being unearthed.