Someone Else's Farm

October 03, 2010

How We Used Our Chickens

Filed under: what we did — Tags: , , — M @ 15:45 PM

As I posted earlier, we got two chickens. We picked them up last Saturday, 25 September. That night, we roasted one, naked except for a lemon and an onion tucked inside and some salt and pepper and a smear of butter outside. I couldn’t take any pictures before, because my hands were a mess, but here’s what it looked like when it came out of the oven:

Whole Roasted Chicken

I don’t usually truss birds, but this one was a little differently shaped than a supermarket bird. It insisted on lying on its back with its legs pointing straight up at the ceiling. So I tied the legs together, to help bring them down a smidge and make the bird fit into the oven better. I followed Tony Bourdain’s roasting temperature guidelines: white wine to cover the bottom of the roasting pan, about half an hour at 375 degrees F, and then another half hour at 425 or until done. I didn’t baste. But alongside the bird, I did cook one of the winter squashes, which I halved, scooped out the seeds from, and put cut-side down in a glass baking dish with a little water in the bottom. And when I turned the temperature up, I slid in a tray of the little red potatoes, which I’d cut into wedges and tossed with a bit of olive oil and seasoned salt.

Casey carved the chicken, because he usually does a better job than I do:

Cut up chicken

We decided that the flavor was terrific, but we weren’t so sure about the texture, particularly in the leg and thigh meat, which were tougher than we were expecting.

Of course, we saved the carcass!

Chicken carcass

The next day was Casey’s turn to do something with a chicken. He cut it into pieces, again saved carcass and wings, and put the breasts and leg quarters into the Dutch oven to brown.

Chicken parts browning in the dutch oven

And then he flipped them over to brown the other side.

Fully browned chicken parts in dutch oven

And from there, he went on to follow Julia Child’s recipe and turn out a fabulous coq au vin. The vin in question was actually more properly a viño, specifically a Spanish Jumilla. It might not have been classic Julia wine, but it worked nicely in this dish.

bowl of coq au vin. yum.

We decided that braising was a more appropriate use of these chickens, as the texture of the meat was easier to appreciate than it was in the roasted bird. About the only thing we’d do differently next time is remove the skin from the chicken before serving, as neither of us is a fan of flabby wet-cooked chicken skin. (We both think it needs to stay on the bird during the braising, as the browning adds too much flavor to lose from the pot that early.) We had leftovers, which we stripped the skin from before storing. We ate the leftovers the next day over cooked egg noodles, and they were just as good on the first day.

And then, Chicken, Act III:

The night we ate the original coq au vin, we cooked up both carcasses and all the wings into stock. Two nights later (the night after the coq leftovers), we had chicken soup for dinner. I browned some carrots, celery, and onions in a soup pot. I then added the carcass stock, the leftover roast chicken meat (cut into bite-size pieces), and the very few leftover roast potato pieces (also cut down smaller). It came up to a boil, and was ready to eat. I had just enough left over for the next day’s lunch. And that was the end of our two birds.

But wait, there’s more!

When I found out that whole birds, with feet that they walked around on, would be processed, I put in a request for chicken feet. I’ve enjoyed them braised in Chinese restaurants, but Casey’s not as fond of them as I am. Nonetheless, I like to include a couple of feet when I make stock, especially from a roasted chicken carcass. (Roasted chicken carcass stock always seems a little thin in body to me, probably because there’s no gelatin left in the bones.) And I came home with five pounds of chicken feet. I rinsed them in cold water, and packed them in baggies in pairs, and put them in the freezer. I wound up with 25 baggies of chicken feet. I thought about blanching them all, and trimming the center and chopping off the claws, but decided to wait and do that when I use each pair. That all happened the same night we roasted the first chicken, and I wanted to get the feet out of the way before starting to deal with roasting prep. I think when I use them, I’ll do so without telling Casey. Don’t tell him, please.

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