Silkie smooth chicken
Ebony and Ivory. Perfect harmony.
Jungle Fever? I never actually saw the movie, but the poster was pretty awesome.
Yes, I’m nearly as weird as the foods I cook.
The more unconventional of the two chickens above, my friends, is something I’ve been eyeing at the T&T grocery store for quite some time. I decided that my mother’s birthday celebration was the perfect time to experiment with my latest dangerous food – the silkie chicken. (She loves me, so it’s not like she could leave. Not without her gifts, anyway, so that meant hanging tight until dessert no matter what).
It looks quite different with its feathery coat
She’s a bit of a princess, no?
The silkie is smaller and obviously more pigmented than chickens we’re used to – even its bones are jet black. This is because it has a gene that causes pigment cells to replicate a lot, which means that even their organs are black. It also has high doses of carnosine, meaning if we eat it, we can increase our muscle mass, fight aging, and reduce diabetes and autism symptoms. The sad thing I learned about them is that they’re the friendliest of the chickens, making good pets, and that they’re happy to adopt other birds’ eggs, making good mothers. Even though this little lady was tender and tasty, you might not find me chomping down on one again. 🙁
Now you may have noticed something else uncommon about my pictures above, which becomes immediately evident to anyone shopping at T&T.
I’m not sure whether the head costs extra, but I began to wonder why it would be left on at all. I deduced that the only possible reason must be that it’s a useful addition culinarily, if that’s a word. And so, my Sherlock Holmsian reasoning, if that’s a thing, brought me to the following video that you may find interesting. If you’re not vegetarian. And if you aren’t beginning to think of your newly acquired backyard chickens as pets rather than protein (talkin to you, http://www.midwesternbite.com – don’t watch if feeling squeamish).
Yes, this is a dangerous food blog, but I just can’t bring myself to follow this chickita’s lead and cross the brain barrier. Organs in general are still tough for me to swallow. Call me chicken I guess. So I pitched the heads. And feet. I’ll give chicken toes a nibble some day, sure, but at a high end dim sum place where they know what they’re doing. I do recommend buying chickens with heads and feet, though, because I think it’s good to be reminded that your meat was once an animal. Probably you’ll eat it less often, and won’t throw out as much when you do.
Now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, here are two of my favourite chicken recipes, to be used as Part A and then Part B – brine, and roast. They worked like a charm on both of these chickens last night, melanin challenged or not. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s dry chicken breast, so PLEASE take the trouble to brine if entertaining no matter what you’re doing with your birds afterward. Works for turkey too.
Lemon Honey Brine with Rosemary (Based on a recipe in “Weber’s Real Grilling”)
- 4C water
- 2 lemons, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups honey
- 3/4C kosher salt
- 1/2C thinly sliced shallots
- 1Tbsp roughly chopped rosemary
- Chicken parts including skin, to a maximum where all are submerged – two chickens had enough room. You can use parts or whole, whatever final recipe calls for. If whole doesn’t fit in pot, like for a turkey, use a food grade plastic bag in a pan
- 8C ice
Directions: Combine all except chicken and ice in a large pot. Bring to boil and let it bubble away for five minutes. Add ice to cool. Add chicken. Put a lid on and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours (12-24 is optimal). Here’s our guy lounging in his cold bath.
And now for the final chicken recipe from “Smitten Kitchen,” that I’m kind of in awe of because she’s a super popular food blogger. Just like me. Ahem. But how good are her chicken head photos? Probably pretty good, actually.
Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives, and Rosemary
- 3 pounds chicken parts with skin and bones (previously brined)
- 1C seedless grapes
- 1C pitted calmata olives
- 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
- 1/2C dry white wine
- 1/2C chicken broth
- 1Tbsp finely chopped rosemary
Directions: Preheat oven to 450. Dry the chicken with paper towels and season well with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Heat a good amount of olive oil to med-high heat in an oven proof frying pan. Fry chicken in batches, 5 minutes a side without fussing with it. Return all chicken to pan and sprinkle with the olives and grapes. Roast in the oven 20 or 30 minutes, until juices run clear (brined meat is always pinker than you’re used to when cooked, but if there’s no bloodiness, you’re good). Remove chicken and cover with foil to keep warm. Add wine and chicken broth to pan and heat to boiling on stovetop, scraping brown bits, and boil until reduced by half, for just a few minutes. Pour over the chicken and serve.
Results: This chicken was deliciously tender, and the blend of the sweet grapes and salty olives was fantastic. A brined chicken is still delicious as leftovers, so there wasn’t a bite of chicken left today, just the day after I made it. I found the silkie chicken even more flavourful than the traditional, although as I mentioned I’m not really into eating pets. Or their heads. Rating: 4 Yums
PS If you happen to be a chef, I’d pay a good penny for “black chicken wings,” as a fancy schmancy appetizer. Let me know if you ever give it a try!
PPS I recently entered @midwesternbite’s Great Chicken Naming Contest of 2013, where she chose a lucky winner to name some of her new backyard chickens. I didn’t win being allowed to name the first one, but I’m still in the running for the other two. So far. Let’s hope new poultry farmers don’t take offense to cheeky photos of recently deceased poultry. Because I really super definitely would like to name a chicken.
- Chicken Name Revealed - […] thanks to our new winner Ann for all her help. By the way Ann’s latest blog post is completely…