Okay, while this doesn’t apply to all readers (especially the vegan/vegetarian/chicken-phobes), I’d be willing to bet a whole lot of money that I don’t actually have on the statement that most carnivores share my love for roast chicken or turkey. Gentlemen, if you want to win my heart and my stomach-slow roast me a chicken and I’m yours til’ death do us part. Granted, I do have a blog dedicated to my love of swine (specifically in bacon form everythingsbetterwithbacon.wordpress.com) I still believe that were I to choose a final meal before I die it would be a moist and juicy roast chicken. Throw in some mashed taters and roasted brussels on the side for color if you care-but I’d be perfectly satisfied with the bird unadorned-so long as it has the crispy epidermal outer layer and the juicy interior (possibly some reduced drippings or homemade gravy NOT GIBLET) you’ll be sure to win my heart. God, I could bathe in this dreaming forever, but lets remember the task at hand, Mary Ann… you’re blogging.
My reason for writing this ode to chicken todlay is because I’m pretty sure I haven’t stopped making it or (gasp) buying it since the first nip of autumn commenced. Long before November 26th rolled around. While I’ve definitely been roasting several of these birds myself (alternating flavors of garlic, citrus, maple, honey, rosemary, apricot, course mustards, simple butter and EVOO) I’ve also lazily snatched a few free-range (some organic, others not certified but the farmers told me they led pretty decent lives-better than most certified organic) pre-cooked birds from the market… Don’t hate, there’s no shame in paying for something outstanding that cost you nothing more than your entire part of your paycheck. I avoid that guilt by reciting the mantra to myself “less dishes… less dishes.” The other issues I have with the pre-cooked is that a) my home isn’t completely saturated in the slow-cooked aromas from my oven and b)not enough pan drippings for a decent home-made gravy (note to self and readers: if you make a great gravy (which is harder than you might think) and you have leftovers (also a difficult assumption) FREEZE for emergency purposes such as pre-cooked roast chickens!).
What both home-cooked and store-bought provide, however, is an outstanding base for a rich stock and further… CHICKEN SOUP (more appropriately deamed “stoup” a la Rachel Ray’s term). Even if you’re midnight munchies have resulted in an anatomy-class-clean skeleton… that carcus (sp?) has some seriously intense flavor and potential left (also remember NEVER GIVE CHICKEN BONES TO A DOG!!!). Simmer the carcus in several cups of water along with some aromatics (I tend to stick with carrots, celery, onion, garlic, sometimes parsnips) a bay leaf and herbs and seasonings to taste (avoid salt overload) and you’ve got the most intense base for a terrific chicken and rice/potato/noodle/barley stewp ever. Strain this bad boy and pull of any remaining meat possible (you’d be surprised at what’s hidden in a licked clean carcus) and return stock to the stove. I try to salvage some of the strained veg… but feel free to just add more to the final product. Sometimes I sweeten with a droplet or two of raw honey or agave or straight up sugah and my recent creation (last night) was a smidge of dried red pepper flake and cayenne from my neighbor’s garden. Just a smidge, as tasters can always add a lil Frank to taste. I also added some a few handfuls of jasmine rice (WARNING: the rice will drink ALL of your stock-which I love, but be less generous of your aiming for a “brothier” stewp)extra shredded chicken and CHORIZO to this recent project. Out. freaking. standing. Nuf said.
Go buy a chicken, roasted or not, and relish in this most delicious and versatile culinary (and gustatory) adventure
Peace and love,