Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Best Roasted Chicken I've Ever Had

At long last, I've perfected my roasted chicken. The secret is sustainability.

After years of experimentation (meaning inconsistency), I no longer fuss about whether or not I should be stuffing the cavity with lemons, brining, or even which spices to use. I don't use spices. With real chicken, they're irrelevant.

I get the oven very hot and rub a sustainably raised bird with olive oil and salt, roasting breast side down until it almost starts to burn, flipping and doing the same on the b-side, then turning the heat down to let it finish.

But that's just the beginning. The most important step is to stand over the chicken once you've pulled it from the oven and to tear off pieces of the meat with your fingers, dredging them in the fat that collected at the bottom of the skillet and eating them, moaning, despite the fact that you've burnt your tongue.

In the OD, MP uses the phrase "a more chickeny chicken." The chicken I most recently cooked, purchased from the awesome Lionette's in the South End (now with carbon neutral bicycle delivery service), was the chickeniest chicken I've ever had. In tasting such chickeniffic chicken, I realized how misleading it is that the word chicken has come to mean neutral or plain.

See the phrase "tastes like chicken," which has become a mantra for mediocrity. People use it to indicate that something tastes plain, acceptable, and non-threatening. "Tastes like chicken" really means "tastes like nothing."

The flavor of real chicken is a presence, not an absence. We hear time and time again that organic, locally grown, sustainable ingredients taste better than their GMO counterparts, but the fact of the matter remains shockingly apparent every time you get your hands on real food. Industrially produced knock-offs taste no more like food than the Monkees sounded like the Beatles.

A real bird will be more expensive than its supermarket cousin, because it lived a real life. So eat less of it at a time and appreciate it more.


Recipe: Roasted Chicken

1 sustainably raised chicken
2 tbsp sea salt
1 glug of olive oil

1. Pre-heat the oven to 500.

2. Rub the chicken with the oil and salt.

3. Roast the chicken, breast side down, until the back has browned. Then flip and do the same for the other side.

4. Once the breast has browned, turn the oven down to 350 and continue to cook until the meat melts off of a drumstick with the slightest provocation and the juices run clear. (About 50 minutes all in all.)

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Karen B said...

we get the most amazing chickens here from three swallows farm--you can actually see that they look like a chicken that lived a life--for some reason all their parts are much clearer, maybe because they used them. on a gmo chicken it's hard to tell what's the breast and what's the back--it's all just flabby

marla said...

This reminds me of my family visit to the Isle of Wight several years ago. We stayed in a small town on the coast and ate most meals at a small family-run restaurant. The food was very plain and homestyle - chicken and potatoes kind of fare - but the chicken was fantastic. My mother is an excellent cook and we kept trying to figure out just what made this plain-looking roast chicken so good that one of us would order it nearly every night. Finally chatting with the owner about what herbs, kind of butter, etc she used (nothing unusual) it finally occurred to me, the grad in agricultural sustainability, to ask where the chicken came from. Was it locally raised? "No, not local," she replied, "they come from a farm at the other end of the island."
(Please note that the Isle of Wight is 22 miles across at its widest point!)

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