II – Chicken chronicles

Bastille day poulets

Pictures are still pending

It was a fine and beauteous day in the ‘burgh for Bastille Day. Sunny and not too hot, with a fine breeze blowing through seated at Monsieur’s picnic table while admiring the lushness of his garden, hearing him tell about the rose expert that visited him earlier in the morning to offer advice on the rose bushes he planted last year which were gifted by the expert’s daughter who is also in the business of roses. The roses in the shade will never do very well, Monsieur told me. They require six hours of sun a day, minimum, the rose expert told him. A C-5A, on its descent into Stewart, flew right over our heads, literally. The giant umbrella over the picnic table and a couple hundred feet of air were all that separated it from us. I still get batty over low-flying aircraft. This one was very low but didn’t seem as loud and screaming as usual, maybe it had something to do with the atmosphere which was light and clear, not sticky and amplifying. I do not know of these things, only detect the sounds and sights while they occur.

What else, besides relax and babble and wonder at the garden picnic table does an older French man and his French-American daughter do for Bastille Day?

Mangeons.

For lunch, our usual spot, Caffé Macchiato, was closed so we opted for the ol’ standby and famille Frémont favourite, Cosimo’s. I know, neither place is French. But the holiday is an afternoon away from the office to spend with Monsieur to eat and laugh about those rolling French aristocrat heads.

Cosimo’s created a new menu. We broke from our usual custom pizza or pasta and salad habit, instead ordered a few appetizers and a side of garlic sautéed broccoli rabe to share. The kitchen went easy on the olio as I requested and was pleased with the result. A risotto crab cake with, I think they used Japanese-style breadcrumb was not too heavy; we both enjoyed the flavours. Little clams in a buttery wine sauce was nice, perhaps a little too salty and could have used a little more lemon and parsley instead. Classic bruschetta was good, cheesy. Ooh. We liked a lot the Italian biscotti crumble with amarena cherries. I imagined its perfection using only crushed biscotti but my teeth made a well-textured bolus of the ingredients.

Dinner was the main event and from whence this chicken series continues. It is posting backwards in time, beginning with the last post on the morning after.

The official chicken taster survived a meal of the first of 23 chickens processed on July 4th. I am relieved, for his sake, and my sake who awates his arrival in town Friday. And am doubly relieved that Monsieur mainly, but I also survived dining on chickens two and three. I suffer a low-grade case of paranoia that if something happens to Monsieur while spending time with him, I would pay in spades on the kharma it seems I’m finally beginning to catch up and make good on. Not to mention, I could only fathom the wrath of little sister if some dire scenario should ever occur.

The chickens, Rhode Island Reds, provided more meat than serving for one feeder per bird. We prepared them two ways and ate only one. The cooked goose that returned to Gotham with me will be prepared a third way, into a chicken salad. I’ll post an adendum for that.

An interesting note, for the yolkavores reading here . . .

The baby chicks travelled unknown miles to MRD’s backyard farm in Southern, central New Hampshire. From his home, post processing, four travelled to my home in Gotham, about 229 miles. From Gotham to the ‘burgh, two birds travelled 59 miles, and one bird returned to Gotham with me, another 59 miles. 347 miles, not including afformentioned unknown chick miles, and miles for high quality grain. Not so bad, compared to the arbitrary but oft-cited 1,500 food miles of your garden variety grocery store provisions.

Bastille Day poulet one way
Serves two semi-hungry Frémonts with leftovers for Monsieur

One backyard-processed Rhode Island Red cut down the middle and put in a bowl with olio, sel, piper, lemon juice to marinade a while
One hot grill (gas, not coals, bah!)

RIR onto the grill for several minutes on each side, turn, several more minutes on each side until well cooked. Elsewhere on the grill, five ears of fresh, yolkal butter and sugar corn, wrapped in foil with double-pats of good butter, grill until they’re done too.

Bastille Day poulet two way
As yet uneaten by either Frémont

One backyard-processed Rhode Island Red in a roasting pan with olio allover its skin and one whole lemon roll-mashed along the counter to loosen juices within and forked along its diameter to releases juices within the birds interior while roasting, sel, piper, crp and rosemary

Chicken, covered loosely with a sheet of foil to avoid burning, goes into an oven pre-heated to 450° — I tend to begin all roasts at this temp. Let roast for about ten minutes, remove from oven and also its foil shield, add more fat (olio or good butter is fine), turn temperature guage to between 325° and 350° and return to oven to let roast another 35 to 40 minutes. Remove chicken and prick with a knife point to ensure it’s roasted well enough. Turn off the oven and return chicken to let finish and slow cool in the residual heat.

A note about backyard raised and processed poulets prepared either one way or two way. These were free-range chickens that the farmer told me were fed on very good grain. They’re muscles are not as tender as the chickens you’d procure from the typical grocery market — the meat is darker and fuller-flavoured, and it is not due to excessive fat. I think a future chicken, if I’m involved in its cooking, which I believe I will be, should be prepared in a roasting pan, not set up on a rack, as poulet two way was, but laying in the pan with liquid (wine, lemon, vegetable?) added to the pan and cooked slowly at a low temperature over a longer period to braise and tenderize the meat.

For yesterday’s dinner, though, Monsieur and I enjoyed eating the sturdier poulet in a more pre-Revolution-style manner — with our hands.

Bon appétit..

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