Une Histoire de Poulet et une Bonne Recette (a chicken story and a good recipe)

It was already getting hot. I squinted against the morning sun and walked under the awning of the only store in town while Doug went in for ice. The streets were dusty and the air smelled of farms. I greeted a bespectacled older man in a “Make America Great Again” hat. Before his brain injury he had worked with Doug in the city some twenty plus years ago on computers. Over the years we have been constantly surprised to see him everywhere, and there he was, out in the country sitting on a bench in front of the convenience store watching the world go by.

He looked up at me and said, “You know it’s not that hard to do it yourself,” then pausing, he took a breath and continued, “but I guess it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.”

“Don,” I said, “I have been vegetarian most of my life, this is a stretch for me!”

We had driven nearly two hours to get there. A few blocks away was the only slaughter house that would process chickens. In her time, my great-grandmother would have shook her head with wonder. She would have had them processed, cleaned, and one frying in a skillet for supper before I could even get those chickens loaded up in the dog kennel.

We had decided that if we were going to eat meat, we would make sure that the animals did not suffer more than a moment and that they had lots of sunshine and kisses atop their fuzzy heads. After eight weeks of organic food, the footballs were loaded up and taken to Simla. I cannot watch, even though I know they are dispatched in a matter of seconds. We drove away from the stench, the hoards of flies forming around our tires and headed a few blocks away to the cafe to meet our children who live in the next town over. After breakfast and time with our giggly granddaughters, we swung by and picked the chickens up, now but small wrapped packages of chicken. I felt grateful and start dreaming up recipes.

I do love my frilly, named layer hens and their colorful batches of eggs. Perhaps next time I will purchase already frozen meat chickens from a trusted farmer. We shall see. Part of living une belle vie is knowing where your food comes from. Crisp, fresh vegetables from le jardin or the farmer’s market. Still warm eggs from the coop. Frothy milk from a farm. Artisan cheeses and wine. Juicy roasted chicken with herbs and garlic alongside a great salad and cold dressing. Perhaps a piece of good toasted bread and a glass of wine. C’est une vie délicieuse!

Garlic and Herb Roasted Chicken

Use a hen that is between 3-5 pounds.

In a bowl whisk together

4 Tablespoons of good olive oil

2 teaspoons of poultry seasoning (a blend of rosemary, thyme, marjoram, oregano, sage, and basil)

2 teaspoons of sea salt

1 teaspoon of dried garlic powder or granules

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

Use your fingers to loosen the skin and apply oil mixture generously under the skin and then all over the outside of the bird.

Place breast side up in a Dutch oven and place in a 350 degree oven. Standard timing is 20 minutes per pound of chicken. Mine was about 4 pounds. I do the opposite of many chefs, I start at the lower temperature and finish high (about 425 degrees) so to crisp the skin. I live at high altitude, which basically means that the chicken will never be cooked when I think it will be! Cooking is part creativity and intuition. If it is cooking slowly, put a lid on it. If the juices are starting to burn, pour in broth, water, or white wine.

Let cool for 30 minutes to let juices settle into meat. Serve with vegetables that were roasted with the bird or a big fresh salad and slivers of brie cheese. Nearly any wine goes great with this roasted chicken!

Bon Appetit!

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