Did you know that alligator tastes like chicken? Bullfrogs and rabbits tastes like chicken. Snake, iguana, snapping turtle? Yep, yep and yep; all taste like chicken. Or so says Joe Staton in his Annals of Improbable Research. As do quail, goose and pigeon! Even kangaroos, I’m assured, tastes like chicken. (Sorry, roo, for my friends down under.) Now I can’t speak to Iguana or snapping turtle or roos for that matter but there is one thing, I can tell you, that absolutely does not taste like chicken . . . and that is chicken!
Chickens from Sun and Water Farms don’t taste like chickens. At least not any of the ones I’ve eaten. Tish Tomlinson, of Sun and Water Farms, takes great pride, and goes to great pains to raise her chickens in a method pioneered by Joe Salatin of Polyface Farms in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. This is as close to free range as a farmer can get and still protect his investment. Joe Salatin’s method involves raising a flock in a large movable pen which provides protection from both the elements and predators.
Once the chicks are old enough to be moved from the brooder, they are placed in these movable pens located in lush pasture land. Here they are allowed to move about freely, scratch, peck and generally be obnoxious. Once every day or two, depending on the condition of the pasture beneath their pen, the flock gets moved over to next next patch of fresh grass and their lives continue stress free. Here they live out their lives protected from the elements; fed healthy, wholesome food at regular intervals; and given room to ‘run chicken run.’ Ah, the farm life.
To my point: These chickens don’t taste like chicken. They taste way better. When cutting open a cleaned bird, just prior to cooking, the first thing you will notice is the color of the fat. Grocery store chickens have loose, pale colored fat. The chickens from Sun and Water Farms have warm yellow fat lines and man I believe it: the flavor is in the fat. This doesn’t mean a skinless breast of Tish’s chicken will be flavorless, quite the opposite, the meat has this wonderful rich savor to it. It is hard to describe really ‘cuz . . . wait for it . . . it don’t taste like chicken!
It just so happens I had one of Tish’s chicken’s in the freezer, which did it no harm at all. I placed it in the refrigerator the night before to thaw and set about cooking it last night. Now even though I studied classic French technique, and the French are world renowned for their sauces, I went light and lean with this fine birdy. Here’s what I did.
Preheated the oven to 450 F degrees
Removed the gizzard and rinsed the chicken well
Patted the bird dry and rubbed inside and out with kosher salt
Placed the salty bird on a roasting rack in a pan
and slid it in to the oven.
(Here’s the French part)
I waited until the bird started talking to me (??)
When I heard the bird start to sizzle and pop, about 30 minutes into it,
I turned the oven temp down to 350 F degrees and continued roasting
for about 30 minutes more.
I checked the internal temperature until I it was about 160 F degrees
(The best place to check temp is not in the plump of the breast but in it alongside the thigh.
Be careful not to touch bone as this will throw your reading off.)
I removed the bird from the oven and inverted it onto a plate
allowing the juices to drain down into the breasts.
Throw that down on a plate with some mashed taters and greens and MMMM . . . mmm
you got some good cooking there.
Eat Well and Smile Often!
Please pass the . . . never mind.
I’m too chicken to try it.
Cluck up Mister!