Chicken disgusts me. Its flaccid, opaque, watery flesh outlined with strings of flab. The skin whiter than an anorexic goth.
I am of course talking about the factory chicken – one of the clearest signs of man’s insanity and greed. I wont touch them. Sticking my hand up its arse to get the liver and heart is a fisting too far. I gag. I wretch. I simply won’t do it. And when all is said and done the thing is not worth eating – it’s a bit like eating clay except not so good for you.
For years this has been a preoccupation of mine here on this speck in the ocean. You either had to buy this foul creature or its long lost cousin, the pollo payes. The pollo payes may be very good, but I am yet to be convinced. Paying 30€ for a bird that has more than half its body weight in bones doesn’t help.
So imagine my delight (go on, imagine it) when my butcher tells me they have finally got organic French chickens for sale in the shop. I run round in circles, I skip and clap my hands. FRENCH ORGANIC CHICKEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Finally. I have been asking for it for years but the old man in the butchers scoffs and thinks me fancy. The son is sneaking up behind him though, and actually getting what the customers want. It’s a bit like that Stella ad from years ago when the son comes back to the village bakery with all those highfalutin ideas. Well, it probably is. I can’t actually remember it too well but you get the point.
So anyway five years later I get my chicken. This regal little mother is golden, pert and frankly good looking. The ticket bears its origin, age and slaughter date. The head is crowned with a scarlet crest and it is the best looking chicken I have ever seen in Ibiza. It costs 18€ and looks to be worth every cent. I stuff the chicken jealously into my trousers and exit the butchers before the old man gets a whiff of the wrongdoing. I swear he has a sixth sense but today it is blocked and I escape unscathed.
At home I behead the noble creature, cut off its feet and pull out its liver and heart. I fuck up cleaning the gizzard so forgo the confited geziers and chuck it in the stockpot along with the head. I soak a piece of old bread in white wine and rub it in its inner cavity. I then pierce a lemon and put it in there as well. I make two incisions in the skin next to the cavity and poke the drumsticks through the holes creating a trussing effect without the bondage. I then rub it all over with olive oil and sprinkle it with rock salt, rosemary and bay leaf and send it upside down into the oven. 20 minutes later I lift it and add sliced potatoes and garlic cloves under it. 20 minutes after that I turn it right side up to finish the breast. 20 minutes after that, the thing has been demolished, my children love me and I am once again the apple of Lucrecia’s eye.
NB. If you go to the expense of this wonderful fowl you must not waste nothing, no. So one of the things you should do is make a quick pate whilst the chicken is in the oven. Do this recipe and you will be assured of head that night, no doubt.
- A cock of butter
2 shallots diced ultra fine
1 garlic clove ditto above
½ a rasher of Oscar Meyer bacon
The liver and heart of your bird
A splutter of brandy
Fresh ground black pepper
Melt the butter and soften the shallot, garlic, thyme and bacon. Add the chopped heart. Slowly cook all this until shallot is translucent and the sofrito sticky. Cut out any green or sinewy bits, turn up the heat and add the liver. Stir a bit and add the brandy. Ignite then delight in the blue flames. Carry on cooking for a couple of minutes, season, chop and spread on toast.