Silkie smooth chicken

Bird is the word | November 11, 2013 | By

Ebony and Ivory. Perfect harmony.

Silke chicken

Jungle Fever? I never actually saw the movie, but the poster was pretty awesome.

Thanks wikipedia

Thanks wikipedia

Silke chicken feet

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).

Silkie chicken

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.

Headon chicken

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, – 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.

Chicken brine

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)
  • Chicken parts
    • 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.

Rosemary chicken with grapes and olives


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.


  1. Leave a Reply

    Mike @ Midwestern Bite
    November 12, 2013

    I’m definitely not one to ever say “LOL”, but the Jungle Fever chicken hand-holding definitely made me LOL. Right here at work.

    Maybe I missed it, but were the chickens already cleaned? Or did you have to do that? I’ve never heard of anyone using the head, but the neck is definitely a delicacy. Maybe that’s why everything was intact? And feet are mainly used to make broth around these parts.

    A few weeks ago, right before we got our chickies, I went to my first chicken “harvesting” where a friend watched me catch one of his older birds, then walked me through the process since I had no idea and had never dressed a chicken. A couple days later Joanna cooked her in crockpot. Tasty! Before I became a gentleman poultry farmer myself, I wanted to make sure I could responsibly and ethically handle the end of life scenarios when the time came. It seems too many folks get cute fuzzy peeps and then chicken out (pun!) after some time because they never planned an exit strategy. You see lots of “free chicken to a good home” ads on Craigslist.

    Anyway, I’m rambling. Great post. We need to try this!

    And congrats on your blissfully euphoric chicken naming win! Hopefully you’ll be able to get some sleep tonight and not be bouncing around in all the excitement. Mistress Billington will be loved and well cared for.

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      November 12, 2013

      Yay! I’m very excited to have named Mistress Billington! To others who haven’t heard the good news, I won the honour of naming one of @midwesternbite’s chickens, and since she’s a plymouth rock chicken, I chose a pilgrim name (check the post here: My runner up choice was Hayley Wickenheiser after our most famous female hockey player, mostly because that would have made you say Wickenheiser a lot.

      Interesting about the chicken harvesting! My friend has always said she loves beef so much she would wrestle a cow to the ground herself, but I’ll believe that when I see it. Good for you that you’re willing to go the distance.

      You may have missed why the heads are included on the chickens if you avoided clicking the link. I’ll admit my WordPress ignorance in that I can’t embed videos to look like a video, so it comes across as a hyperlink. But the one in the post is of someone eating a chicken head. Click it with care, but it sounds like you might be able to handle it. 🙂

  2. Leave a Reply

    November 12, 2013

    That article was great. I’m still giggling to myself…which is usually the norm even when I’m just sitting in a dark corner with a bottle of Rye and a ventriloquist dummy…errrrr…that’s another story. But seriously, thank you so much for writing this article, it really perked up my day, not to mention taught me a few new things. Cheers!

  3. Leave a Reply

    November 12, 2013

    LOL! LOVE LOVE LOVED the pics this week. Those recipes looks amazing. Still chuckling at Jungle Fever…hehe.

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      November 12, 2013

      Thanks! At one point I thought one of the eyes was open that had been closed, which creeped me out more than a bit. Sleep with one eye open…

  4. Leave a Reply

    November 12, 2013

    wowzers.. Weird. um yes. Wish we lived in the same city.. I’d make you cook me something!!

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      November 12, 2013

      My cousins have specifically requested a “dangerous” appetizer as one of my Christmas dinner contributions. I’ll make them rue the day… 🙂

  5. Leave a Reply

    November 13, 2013

    My husband is Chinese, so I asked him about the heads being on (my in-laws always leave the heads on the chicken). He said that it is particularly for overseas markets, but the idea is that this chicken (or fish, since they also do it for fish) is fresh and nothing is wrong with it (there’s nothing to hide). They don’t eat the head, but show it for their guests so that the guests know the chicken is fresh. In the US, we have food laws which are supposed to help us know our meat is fresh. This is a way they signify the meat is fresh over in China/etc. Think about how you could look at a hot dog and not know what is in it, but you can tell by looking at a whole chicken that it is what they say it is.

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      November 13, 2013

      Fantastic, thanks!! Makes perfect sense also when you think of buying fish – you’re supposed to look at the eyes to make sure they’re not cloudy. 🙂

  6. Leave a Reply

    Cinnamon @ eatpraytri
    November 14, 2013

    This post kind of grossed me out but made me laugh at the same time. The pic of the chickens feet together. GOLD I tell you!!

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      November 14, 2013

      Thanks! Gross hilarity kind of sums up my cooking sometimes (and my old single life HA)

  7. Leave a Reply

    Joanna @ Midwestern Bite
    November 20, 2013

    For the record I haven’t commented on this post before now even though I’ve had a hundred things to say because I am 100% sure no comment of mine can compare with the awesomeness of the photo of the chickens holding hands, I think I might love you (but not in that way, I’m not that kinda girl, not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

      • Leave a Reply

        Ann Allchin
        November 20, 2013

        Aaaand, this is exactly how long I can wait after leaving a falsely-ingenuine reply before I go crazy, even though I did it because I know you love Star Wars. Been bugging me all morning. Thanks!!!! I might love you too, but not in that way either, not that there’s anything wrong with that. 🙂

  8. Leave a Reply

    January 17, 2014

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the greatest blogs on the net.

    I will recommend this web site!

    my webblog tsa pocket knife rules 2009; Bev,

  9. Leave a Reply

    K hudson
    August 27, 2016

    U should ashamed! My silkies r the sweetest pets. Know their names come when they r called. U probably eat dogs & cats! Probably neighbors pets!

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      September 27, 2016

      Well, my dog is a whippet, so she’s too skinny to be delicious. Thanks for your passion!

  1. Chicken Name Revealed - […] thanks to our new winner Ann for all her help.  By the way Ann’s latest blog post is completely…

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