Monday, July 25, 2011

Where Do Big Old Tough Chickens Go?

There once lived a huge chicken on a friend's farm in Iowa. When said chicken finally kicked the bucket a few years in, my friend gave it to me, thinking it too huge and tough to do anything with. You see, conventional chickens are slaughtered just weeks into their lives, before anything really develops too much. Well, this guy was huge, and rough, and tough, but I thought it necessary to use his ample supply of meat and flavor. So, on the first annual "Chicken Day", I did. Here's what went down:
  • I removed the meat from the carcass and made stock with the carcass;

  • I ground one of the huge legs and made an Asian-influenced filling for ravioli with scallions, sesame oil, cane vinegar, ginger, garlic and who knows what else, and served the ravioli in that chicken stock;

  • Stuffed one of the enormous breasts with a mixture of sweet corn, shallots and mushrooms, wrapped the entire thing in a bunch of bacon, and pan roasted it with little knob onions;

  • Cut the rest up, soaked it in buttermilk and deep fried it;

  • Made a bit of orzo salad with olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon zest, vinegar and feta cheese to go with it all;

  • Figured that wasn't nearly enough so decided to make a rhubarb pie to go along with it all.
It was a good, if heavy meal--one that could have fed 10 people, easily. The flavor of the chicken was so big, so pronounced, that it hardly seemed like the chicken we've grown used to, so young and tender. I don't foresee ever being privy to another bird this big that isn't a turkey, but if I am, I'm going to invite a whole lotta folks over the the homestead and do it up pioneer style like we did that day of all days: Chicken Day.