This was perhaps the most difficult chicken dinner of my life. Yes, this is Puff, the chicken I hatched and raised for four months until it became clear that he was a rooster. If you haven't been following the saga you can get some history here and here and here and here and here.
I like meat, and even for me this was a hard meal to cook and eat. I've never eaten an animal that I was so close to..... but it seemed like the only thing to do given the circumstances. I couldn't keep him since he was crowing and roosters are illegal in the city; I couldn't give him away since he was not exactly the most virile rooster; and I couldn't just kill him and throw away the carcass. I put a lot of time and money into this little bird, and it seemed only fair that I get a little nourishment out of the deal.
Here it is. I don't know what we did wrong, but for some reason the legs wouldn't fold up against the body like a "regular" chicken. It looked a little sad and a little comical at the same time. Poor Puff.
I understand now why white chickens are most commonly used for meat. Even after we plucked it as well as we could, the black feathers stood out against the white skin. From here I took some tweezers and picked out as many pinfeathers as I could get a hold of.
I also rinsed the bird well. cut the neck off, and stuffed the neck into the cavity along with some chopped onions and parsley (I have quite a bit of parsley and basil from the garden frozen in ziploc bags. It's really easy to use this way.)
I rubbed more parsley and some butter on the skin and put it in the oven at a high heat. At about 5 minutes I turned it on one side and in another 5 minutes turned it to the other side to brown the skin.
When the skin had browned a little I turned down the heat and chopped some potatoes and the giblets (gizzard, heart, and liver), and added them to the roasting pan. The giblets are beautiful I think, especially the iridescent gizzard. It holds the pebbles that the chicken eats to grind its food. Notice the nice yellow fat - this bird may have been small, but it was well fed!
Here's the potatoes and giblets added to the pan. I roasted it covered at 325 until it was done.
It wasn't easy to fit the lid on the roasting pan with the legs sticking up like that, but I managed.
Beet greens from the garden! I harvested the last of the arugula and beets from the backyard garden last week. It was just in the nick of time since a few days later it was down to 12 degrees at night.
I sauteed them in local sunflower oil and a little apple cider vinegar...
.... and then added some garden arugula.
We still had some time before the chicken was done, and I wanted to watch the president's speech about Afghanistan, so I turned off the heat on the greens and put a lid on it to let the arugula steam.
After the speech I re-heated the greens and they were ready to go.
So was the chicken. It was very small and cooked really fast. In a little over an hour it was up to 175 degrees.
There wasn't a whole lot of meat on the chicken - just enough for a sensible portion for 3 people. Dave, Stanley, and I made short work of it. It did taste good, but it was a somber meal none the less.
I don't even want to think about how much I ended up paying per pound for this meat! The incubator, the feeder and waterer, the heat lamp, all the food, the dog kennel, the bedding.... it was a learning experience, that's for sure!
I made some really nice stock out of the carcass. It ended up really gelatinous and thick. This was not a bird that I wanted to waste any part of. It wouldn't be fair to me or to the bird.
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