Friends were meeting me at a Costco parking lot to give me an unwanted rooster to butcher.
At any rate, one of the hard things about eating roosters is it seems wrong to destroy such a lovely creature - like vandalism almost. But that's objectifying a rooster and looking away from the real reason it should be hard. Taking a life, even for food, even humanely, shouldn't be easy or fun.
A rooster's looks don't always help him to a happy life and often get him in trouble. The more conspicuous, the more other roosters want to fight with them. The more predators try to eat them. This white rooster would be like a beacon to every hawk in North Burien.
Some chicken breeds are blue.
I don't like chicken soup. More specifically I can't even bring myself to eat it. I don't like how all the flavor leaves the chicken and goes into the water. I don't like the smell of boiled skin. The first time I cleaned a wound on one of my hens, her wet, plucked skin smelled like chicken soup.
So although I wanted to respect the culinary tradition, I decided I'd rather respect the chicken by cooking him in a way I would enjoy. And to celebrate the beauty of roosters, I decided to make a colorful meal.
I roasted the bird, and served him with homemade saffron egg noodles, rainbow chard and a dessert tart of meringue and strawberries. Only the tart was as colorful as we had hoped. The chicken, the chard and the noodles all lost their crayon-like vibrancy with cooking.
But Oh Dear Lord was that chicken delicious. I've been cooking and eating meat for the past year, and this is the first time I think I got it right. This chicken was tender as springtime and intensely flavorful.
I did well.
Slow Roasted Free Range Silkie1 silkie or other small, stringy chicken
2 quarts water or whey + 1/2 cup water divided (I used whey from draining Greek yogurt)
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 sprig each - rosemary, sage
1 tsp butter
At least 24 hours in advance, prepare the brine by stirring the salt and the sugar into the whey or water.
Place the chicken in the brine - it should be covered. Weigh it down so the chicken is fully submerged.
5 hours before dinner, drain the chicken and discard the brine.
Preheat oven to 225
Dry the chicken well and rub skin with butter. For a free range chicken, use a lot of butter.
Place the herbs in the bird's cavity, and truss the legs and wings tight to the body.
Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan or dutch oven with a tight fitting lid.
Pour 1/4 cup water into the pan. Cover tightly and roast for 4 hours or till temperature reads 160 by the leg bone..
Remove lid and pour in 1/4 cup water if pan is dry.
Turn oven to 450. Roast for 15 minutes or until skin is crisp.
Remove pan from oven. Place chicken on a platter to rest, and set pan on stove. Don't clean that pan yet!
4 large egg yolks
1/2 t + 1t salt, divided
pinch saffron threads
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Snipped fresh rosemary to taste
Place saffron in a heat resistant bowl and pour 1/4 cup boiling water over. Let cool to room temperature.
Place flour and salt in food processor and pulse to combine.
Add egg yolks and water. Mix. It should form lots of small, granular lumps of stiff, tacky dough. When squeezed, dough should form a lump.
If it crumbles, add more water by the tablespoon, mixing well between additions, until it stays together when squeezed.
If the dough is even remotely sticky, add flour the same way - 1 T at a time, mixing between additions until it is non-sticky.
Briefly knead dough.
Using a pasta roller, and working in batches, roll out dough on setting 1. Fold and roll until it becomes very smooth and supple. The dough should be completely non-sticky.
Adjust setting to 2, and roll dough again. Continue to setting 5 or 6.
Then use the wide noodle setting to cut dough into strips.
Let noodles dry briefly (I hang them on plastic coat hangers).
Bring to boil a large pot of water. Add 1 t salt. Add noodles, a handful at a time, stirring constantly to prevent sticking.
After the last noodles go in, cook for five minutes.
Place noodles, still damp, in the pan the chicken cooked in. Pour on olive oil and snipped rosemary.
Toss pasta so it picks up cooking flavors from the chicken.
Place in bowl and set chicken pieces over.
Meringue Tart with strawberries4 egg whites
1 cup fine white sugar + extra to sprinkle
1 t vanilla
Set oven to 275. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a plate on the paper and trace a circle.
Place egg whites in a very clean mixing bowl, and beat with a very clean whisk at the highest mixer setting.
When whites form a foam, add vanilla and mix.
When foam begins to thicken, start adding sugar 1 T at a time.
Between each tablespoon, mix until the sugar is completely gone.
The foam will thicken, turn white, and expand.
Beat until the foam holds its shape when you stop the mixer and pull out the beater.
Scoop out the foam and form a circle on the paper.
I piped a bit of foam around the edge to form a rim
Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Then turn off oven and open oven door.
Remove the meringue after it has cooled, such as an hour later.
Transfer fully cooled meringue to serving plate.
Just before serving, fill with sliced strawberries, sprinkle with sugar and garnish as you choose.
This dish is very pretty but we found it too sweet.