Sunday, November 2, 2008

Chicken: It's What's For Dinner

Ever made that joke, as you waited for slow-as-Christmas food service, that they must be slaughtering the main course somewhere out back? Now you too can add extra hours (technically months!) to your dinner preparations with The Raw and the Cook's handy DIY home chicken processing guide. Dismayed by the dearth of instructional video footage online, I decided to film clips of our last chicken harvest from field to fry pan--well, technically roasting dish. My camera, alas, is anything but professional, and I'm afraid that my video editing isn't going to win me an Oscar. Nevertheless, for those of you who, like me, like to follow a process from start to finish, this will hopefully provide some guidance in your own poultry adventures. For those of you who would really rather not know your dinner on a first name basis, I believe that this is still an important explanation of the process behind your food. If you can stomach the kill footage and guts don't make you queasy, observe how swiftly our chickens transition from animals to meat. You don't always have to do something yourself to appreciate it, I believe. As for the rest of you, those who would really rather kill a turnip than a turkey, I'm including an excellent recipe for brining a chicken, as well as the sauteed kale dish with which we accompanied our delicious bird.

Brined Roasted Chicken

1/2 cup sea salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 gallon cold water
1 chicken (ours was 3.5 lbs)
1 T roasted garlic puree OR minced fresh garlic
3 t fresh oregano, minced
1 T dried rosemary
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon
black pepper

In a large pot (large enough to submerge the entire chicken) mix the sea salt, sugar, and water until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the chicken and refridgerate it for 6-24 hours.

Drain the pot and pat the chicken dry. Discard the brine. Preheat the oven to 375. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, oregano, dried rosemary, and olive oil. Carefully loosen the chicken's skin over the breasts, thigh, and drumsticks and spread the garlic mixture between the skin and the meat. (N.B.: This sounds harder than it is. The skin should seperate easily from the meat)

Place the chicken on a roasting rack or in a roasting pan, breast side up, and squeeze half of the lemon over the chicken. Cook the chicken for 20 minutes for each pound of weight. Half way through, remove the chicken from the oven, turn it over, squeeze the remaining lemon over the chicken, and season with fresh black pepper. It is done when the thickest part, between the leg and thigh, reaches 180 degrees. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.
Fall Greens Sauté with Sweet Peppers and Onion

8 sundried tomatoes
½ cup boiling water
2 cups onion, sliced
1 sweet bell pepper
4 cloves garlic
5 cups greens, torn (kale, chard, or collards will all work nicely, though in a different season you could also use lambs quarters, tatsoi, or mustard greens)
1 cup chicken or veggie broth

Soak the sundried tomatoes in the boiling water for 30 minutes. Drain (save the liquid as flavoring for stews) and slice.

In a fryingpan, sauté the onion, bell pepper and garlic in some olive oil. Add the tomatoes.

Stir in the greens and broth and bring to a boil. Simmer until the greens are tender, 15 minutes. Garnish with Parmesan cheese (if you want). Great as a side dish, or can easily become a main when served over polenta.


Paige said...

Nice work! I think you've found your movie director.

Kate said...

Awesome, MK. Mad video (and evisceration) skillz. ;)

Alexandra said...


That's all I can really say about that video. You are my hero.

Anthony-Masterson Photography said...

Well done! Great job! Bravo!
But really Alexandra said it best.

Stephanie said...

MK, Jack and Andrew -thank you for giving me the opportunity to practice what i preach. Your reverence, humility, encouragement and humor gave this bleeding heart the strength. Watch out Michael Pollen!