Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pickin' 2, chick harder

Sometime back, we engaged in a side by side comparison of chicken from various sources, including a pricey fresh free-range heritage bird, a slightly less-pricey fresh organic bird, and a mass-produced grocery store bird (that had no doubt been frozen). Check the link to read more about that test.

Here recently, in an unintentional  and limited reprise of that test, we grilled a fresh young Delaware rooster alongside a grocery store bird. The rooster was courtesy of friends, who provided us with the just-processed bird when over to pick up some spare seedlings from our garden for their own, which their chickens had ravaged. The young rooster nominated himself for the axe by a nasty disposition and not playing well with others.

Like last time, both birds were spatchcocked. For grilling, I prefer to just flatten the breast with my palm, breaking the keel and spreading the bird out some, rather than actually removing the keel bone. If you remove the keel, the bird is a lot less stable when you are flipping it over while on the grill and may even fall in two as it gets more done.

Delaware on the right. Reading about the breed, I was somewhat surprised to learn that they were developed for sale as roasters. Compared to the current meat bird, the leg/wing to breast ratio on this guy is startlingly high. Also, the dark meat is much more dark, which might be as much a function of the fact that he was living a life running about, pecking on others and marauding gardens, instead of sitting in a cage as it is a matter of breeding.

I recently came across Alice Waters' directions for grilling chicken in "The Art of Simple Food". She essentially recommends the same technique (including breaking the keel bone rather than removing it). For these birds, I used both spices- salt and pepper, but then tucked a little piece of water-soaked green oak in a corner of the grill to add some smoke.

As you can tell from the picture above, the skin on the Delaware was much more sturdy than that on the grocery store bird. It was still good, even though a bit chewy. Overall, in contrast to our last experiment, the heritage bird came out way ahead here, with a more strongly meaty or chicken-y flavor.  Here's to ornery roosters and sharing resources!

Mostly food-blogging lately, but that is in part because the high country is either burning up or subject to fire restrictions and, for the lowlands, it's hot out there- supposed to get up to 104 F today. Once the summer rains hit, if they do, things should get more interesting. Also, only another eleven weeks or so to dove and grouse season.

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