Tuesday 17th November 2020 - Chicken
Yes I agree; 'Chicken' is a bit of a strange blog title. It was inspired by friends, who posted on Facebook photos of a slow roast chicken which they ate on Sunday in the garden of their Greek island home. It provided me with a number of thoughts, which I will share with you here.
I’ll start with how the status of chicken for culinary purposes has changed over the past sixty years or so. A Sunday lunch of roast chicken, was once a great treat. Chicken was expensive, so it was beef, lamb or pork which would be more commonly enjoyed while listening to the Billy Cotton Band Show on BBC radio’s Light Programme. My grandparents had a small holding so my Mum was lucky to be given a chicken to cook, from time to time.
This brings me to the flavour. Those chickens of yesterday were nothing like today’s buxom birds, seen in both supermarkets and butchers. They were pointy breasted, a proper fowl, with a taste beyond comparison with today’s chickens, which have been bred purely for meat and not for flavour. Even a corn fed free range chicken does not compare. The last time we tasted anything like yesterday’s chicken was in Kefalonia during our stay in 1998. We took a break on one of our daily walks and stopped at a roadside taverna, where in the kitchen we perused the various dishes on offer. Peter ordered the chicken which immediately transported him back to his childhood. He shared his portion with me, so I too could appreciate, once again, proper chicken. The chicken our friends had for their Sunday lunch was of today’s buxom kind and not an old breed but I know from their post, this didn’t stop them from enjoying it.
Although today’s chickens lack intense flavour and border on insipid, this does have its advantages. It’s definitely a popular meat. You only have to look at supermarket shelves to see this where there is far more chicken, in one shape or another, than the other meats on display. One main advantage is, now chickens are reared in huge numbers, although not always in the most humane way, it is no longer expensive and has become a cheap way of feeding an ever increasing population, both nationally and globally. A bland meat, compared to others, chicken lends itself to so many recipes to in effect ‘jazz’ it up. Popular in spicy dishes, you can hardly feel guilty of masking the flavour of a meat which basically doesn’t have a lot.
Before I wind up, I have to say pointy or buxom breasted, whole roast chicken is one thing that I no longer cook. Having had a couple of hens, I really can’t face cooking a whole bird anymore.
Today’s photo is not as it looks; a pot of parsley. It’s a herb called par-cel which looks like parsley but tastes like celery. I have a number of pots in the greenhouse plus there are some more under cover on Peter’s vegetable plot. I have used the leaves in several dishes and it could well be added for extra flavour, to a casserole using one to today’s buxom chickens.