I bought this 4 lb. Corn-fed Chicken for €5. (that’s about $5.60). I have never had a corn-fed chicken. Notice how yellow the skin is!
HERBY ROAST CHICKEN
This bird had very little fat so I decided to make a mixed herb, garlic and olive oil paste to rub under and on the skin, But first wash your bird thoroughly inside and out under cold running water. Use your index finger to scrape along either side of the spine to remove nasty dried blood, etc. Dry the bird inside and out. Next, fold the wing tips under the bird (so ends don’t burn). Place bird on a rack or in my case, no rack, so I used 3 carrots to elevate the bird.
Liberally salt and pepper inside and out. For the herbs I used fresh parsley, chives, thyme and a little tarragon, 2 cloves peeled garlic, salt, and about 1 cup olive oil. Parsley was the predominant herb, but use any combo you have on hand. The amount of oil will depend on the amount of herbs you use. Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Consistency should be similar to a basil pesto you’d buy in the store. Make more paste than you need; nice to have this readily available in the fridge.
To rub the paste under the skin insert your finger between the skin and flesh at the top of the breast and gently lift and separate the skin from the carcass. Spoon in about 1/2 cup paste to each side. Spread the paste by rubbing the skin gently to get evenly spread under the skin.
Spread a little on the outside of the bird, as well. Insert a bouquet garni (in French literally means garnished bouquet); a small bundle of herbs usually tied with kitchen twine. I tied mine with chives. Truss the legs with kitchen string.
Peel and roughly chop a large onion and 2 cloves garlic. Place in the pan around the chicken. Add salt, pepper and a light drizzle of olive oil.
Because this chicken had so little fat I placed 6 Tbsp. of lovely Irish salted butter on the top of the bird. (Any butter is fine.)
Preheat oven to 400. Roast chicken for 10 minutes, then rotate the roasting pan. If your oven cooks evenly, no need to do this. Turn down heat to 325 and roast for another hour or until legs move easily. Or, to be more precise, until a meat thermometer reads 165 F.
This chicken was moist, delicious and very herby. We didn’t notice any difference in flavor or texture due to its corn-fed upbringing, but it sure was good!
One reason I love chicken….
THEY KEEP ON GIVING!
The next night I cut all the chicken off the bone to make an old fashioned, comfort dish…
CHICKEN POT PIE
At home I would make this dish with a thawed puff pastry that you buy in the frozen section of your grocery store. You can also top with flaky biscuit dough. I could not find puff pastry in Spiddal, Ireland so made a rich, very simple pastry crust. I didn’t have enough butter in the house; it was pouring with a raging gale and I didn’t want to walk to the village, but I did have some beautiful chicken fat (thanks to our bird who keeps on giving!), which made the crust super rich. I used a combo of butter and chicken fat.
Ingredients for Pastry Crust:
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. Salt
3 Tbsp. Chicken fat
2 Tbsp. Butter
2-3 Tbsp. Ice water
Mix flour and salt. Cut in fat/butter (use either a pastry cutter; two knives; or I prefer to use my fingers) until the consistency resembles coarse meal. Add as little ice water as possible; just enough so dough holds together. At this point wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least a half hour. I was already late getting dinner so I rolled right away without a problem. This recipe made enough for 3 large (or 4 small) individual pies. It would work well for one large pie.
TO MAKE THE FILLING:
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 tsp. Fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 tsp. Fresh Tarragon, chopped
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup Bechamel or other white sauce (I made Bechamel the day before for an eggplant souffle so already had it in the fridge.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Saute the carrot, celery, onion, garlic, salt and pepper in olive oil over medium heat until just tender. Add the frozen peas, herbs and white sauce.
To make white sauce melt 4 Tbsp. butter in pan, add 4 Tbsp. flour and cook stirring until smooth (this is called a roux); about 5 minutes. Slowly stir in 2 cups milk or chicken stock and cook, stirring constantly for another 15 minutes. Season with salt/pepper.
BACK TO THE POT PIE FILLING…
Bring the veg mixture to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Divide filling between 3-4 bowls; top with pastry. Crimp edges and cut away excess (I made a couple fruit empanadas with left-over pastry.). Cut slots in the pastry to allow steam to escape while they bake.
Bake for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
AND THE HUMBLE CHICKEN STILL GIVES MORE…
Place all the chicken bones, gel and pan drippings from the roast chicken into a large pot. Add enough water to cover the bones. Add 2 chopped carrots, 1 stalk roughly chopped celery, 1 small onion, 1 clove garlic, Bay leaf, salt/pepper. Bring to a vigorous boil; reduce heat so stock is gently bubbling. Cook for at least 3 hours. Let cool and strain. A 4 pound chicken will give you about 1 qt. of stock. This lasts well for a week in the refrigerator or freeze for future use. I made a Cream of Butternut Squash Soup, garnished with pan roasted pears and fresh sheep’s milk yogurt, hint of cinnamon and curry.
THAT’S ALL FOR TODAY FROM SPIDDAL, COUNTY GALWAY, IRELAND!
THANKS FOR TUNING IN!
NEXT TIME IT’S BACK TO ITALY WITH A RECIPE FOR STROMATO di VIDURE–VEGETABLE SOUFFLE!
This is the view from San Giovanni d’Asso, Toscano.