Category Archives: Poultry

Chicken Skin

Crispy chicken skin.Really you shouldn’t end up with an excess of chicken skin very often.  The skin is a delicious and coveted part of fried chicken and roast chicken, and if it’s well-rendered it can also go into some cold, day-after preparations like chicken salad sandwiches.

But if you are shredding leftover chicken to make chicken noodle soup or chicken stew, you may want to set the skin aside for another application.

Here’s how to turn cold, flabby, leftover chicken skin into golden brown, crispy pieces of crackling. Line a sheet tray with parchment and lay out the pieces of chicken skin so they are flat.  Place another sheet of parchment on top, and then another sheet tray on … Continue reading.

Chicken Stew

chickent_stewUnlike beef stew, which I make from fresh cuts of beef, chicken stew is foremost a way of reclaiming and elevating leftover roast chicken.

There’s not much point in stewing chickens these days.  Old recipes like coq au vin are from a time when we actually let some of our birds grow old enough to be tough and require stewing to tenderize.  Basically all of the chickens that we eat now are less than two months old, so their meat is extremely tender.  Stewing these birds only dries them out.

However, if you happen to have leftover roast chicken, shredding the meat and coating it in the sauce of a stew returns some moisture and savour to the meat.

In … Continue reading.

Chicken Wings

Chicken wings straight out the fryer.Buying whole animals forces you to eat their various components in rigid proportion.

For instance, if you go out on a Wednesday and eat two dozen chicken wings, you have eaten the upper appendages of six chickens.  If you had to purchase those chickens as whole birds, you would then be stuck with a dozen breasts and a dozen legs that you would need to consume before you ever ate wings again.

All this to say I don’t prepare chicken wings at home very much.  But I love them, and sometimes I’ll squirrel away the wings from my chickens, accumulating them over several months, until I have enough to justify preparing them bar-style.

Anatomy of a Chicken Wing.  If … Continue reading.

Towards a Theory of Fried Chicken

Fried chicken cooling an a rack.Usually I don’t post about something til I’m confident I have a best practice down pat.  I have to say that there’s one important point in my fried chicken technique that I am waffling on: I’m torn between the winning flavour of buttermilk-brined chicken, and the superior texture of dry-rubbed chicken.

The Chicken.  Frying chicken is a bit of a balancing act: you want the crust to develop the perfect, deep golden brown at the very instant the meat reaches the proper temperature.  If you were to take an entire leg from a large chicken and deep fry it, the exterior would get much too dark by the time the meat cooked through.[1]

For this reason I like … Continue reading.

Chicken Stock and Chicken Noodle Soup

As I mentioned in the Cutting Poultry post, one of the chief pleasures of buying whole birds from the market is that you get a bunch of bones with which to make stock.

You can make a small amount of light stock with one chicken carcass, or you can freeze the bones and collect a few carcasses so that you can make a whole pot.  You can cut up your chicken, raw, into largely boneless pieces, and save the raw bones for stock.  Or, if you roast the whole bird and pull the meat off at the table, you can save the cooked carcass for stock.

All the bones of the bird can go in the stock.  The neck and … Continue reading.

How to Truss a Chicken

Truthfully I never truss poultry.

The theory behind trussing is that birds, in their natural, irregular shape, do not cook evenly: the slender, exposed limbs, the wings and the legs, cook faster than the breasts.  This is true, no doubt, but the legs, made of dark meat, need to reach a higher temperature than the breasts to be cooked through.  By leaving the legs un-trussed and exposed, they reach their higher finishing temperature at pretty much the same time as the breasts.  For this reason the only thing I do to prepare a bird for roasting is bend the wingtips and tuck them behind the bird’s back.

At any rate, Thomas Keller holds trussing as a fundamental skill, so I … Continue reading.

8-Cut Chicken: The Classic Fried-Chicken Cut

Fried chicken should be eaten off the bone.  Following is the classic way to break down a whole chicken into boney pieces that can be dredged and deep-fried.  Traditionally there is a lot of cutting through the bones, which is fun but can leave little shards in the meat.  I’ve cleaned up the method somewhat by separating at the joints where possible.  Even so, I wouldn’t cut this way if I were feeding small children.

We start by removing the legs at the hip.  Bend the leg backwards to expose the joint, then cut with a knife.

Removing the leg

The leg, removed

To separate the thigh and drumstick, bend the knee against it’s will until it snaps, then cut through the joint.  These are the … Continue reading.

Duck Breast

Scored, raw duck breastIf you spend enough time with culinary types, eventually you’re going to hear some douchebag call a duck breast a magret.

Magret is a term from Gascony, a Basque region of southwestern France.  This is the spiritual home of modern foie gras: the liver of ducks and geese that have been forcibly fattened by a process called gavage.  The many products and byproducts of these fattened birds form the pillars of the remarkable cuisine of Gascony.  For instance, the rendered subcutaneous fat is the main cooking fat in the region, and is used to make confit.

Traditionally, magret refers to the lean portion of a bird that has been fattened for foie and confit, namely … Continue reading.

Roast Chicken

Roast chicken drumstickCrisp, delicate, golden skin.  Moist, tender, well-seasoned flesh.  A whole bird, brought to the table and broken into pieces, distributed amongst the diners according to their personal preferences.  This is the beauty and simplicity of the ideal roast chicken dinner.

You can go to ridiculous lengths to roast the perfect chicken – (see the In Search of Perfection episode on roast chicken, which involves brining, soaking in water, scalding three times, cooking in the oven for five hours, then searing on the stove top…) – but with a fraction of the effort you can have mostly the same results as the most complicated procedures.

The following process results in by far the highest ratio of eating quality to effort.  All … Continue reading.

Cutting Poultry

The latest in the “Cutting Whole Animals” series on Button Soup: a general approach for cutting poultry.

The general skeletal and muscular structure is almost identical for all meat birds.  Proportions of wing to breast to leg will vary, but the following procedure will work for chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and guinea hens, as well as game birds like pheasants, grouse, partridge, and so on.

This is a whole chicken.  It’s from Four Whistle Farms.  It weighs about 3 kg.

A whole chicken from Four Whistle Farms

 

Removing the Legs

The legs pull easily from the body.  You can see a good deal of loose skin between the leg and body.

Pulling the leg away from the body of the chicken

Cut the skin and pull the leg farther from the body.

Cutting the skin between the leg and body of the chicken

Bend the leg behind … Continue reading.