Monday, December 7, 2009

Dickson's chickens

Poor thing. This was one of the two Dickson's* chickens, bought at the Chelsea Market, and which I deboned yesterday. This one took about 25 minutes, the next 17. Not that I was timing myself, or anything. It's a gory business, intimate, and requires a very sharp little knife. The Opinels performed admirably, doing a tagteam as one lost its edge...

The meat of the chicken was not pale pink. It was red. I've frozen the carcasses for stock.

I stuffed them with quite large pieces of chicken of the woods, first sauteed in butter (ran out of olive oil: the unthinkable!). To these I added sauteed shallots, breadcrumbs, lemon zest, dried summer savoury and a little of the leftover gnocchi mix of spinach and ricotta.

Behold the tiny kitchen, overflowing with crystalized pomelo zest, resting chickens and sunchoke soup.

Note to self: the mushrooms were so delicious that I will go back and get some more to eat just like that, sauteed with salt and pepper, perhaps on soft polenta.

* Jake from Dickson's emailed me about the birds, after I asked what breed they were:

The chickens we get are a breed called the red cockerel. We get all of our poultry from a live poultry market in queens called Madani Halal. They source the birds from a few amish farms in PA on our behalf. Birds come into the city live every morning and we just call over and request what we need for the shop and they slaughter for us so they are very very fresh.


  1. Would it be alright to say I'm deeply impressed by the elbow-deep determination of your cookery as well as sort of scared by it? I think I feel this way about focus in general. It's a good thing.

  2. After sampling it all again for lunch today, it is confirmed. Fan-tas-tic. :-)

  3. I cant wait to read more!! :) That chicken looks...phenomenal! :)

  4. I am in awe. You can debone a chicken! Is it as hard as it sounds? Can't wait to hear what you do with the pomelo zest.

  5. My mother & father were from Italy along with a splat here and there of one other family from Italy existed in the Americanized suburban neighborhood we lived in. I can remember as a child how they would slaughter their dinner. As a child, and in our suburbia surroundings, this was not a pleasant site.

    But these days, with all they inject into our foods, I would love to be able to have a place to go to get fresh meat. My father is 91 and I believe the only way he got there was due to his healthy intake of foods...very fresh, homegrown vegetables and fruits and such.

    Your blog is simply a breath of fresh air. I've enjoyed my stay and have added you to my blog roll under foods because your recipes are wonderful!

  6. Funny, Pritha, and elbow deep is about accurate in this case. I feel that way about focus, too. it takes a raw chicken, sometimes...:-)

    Beence, merci. Poor you, chicken 3 meals in a row.I think I may have preferred it cold.

    Thanks, Liliana :-)

    Heheh Ellen. It's actually not hard, just fiddly. Logical, once you have begun. I think my cousin Andrea Weiss, taught me to do it, though I can't remember the lesson. Maybe she just explained it very well. Certainly, hers was the first I ever saw and ate on a picnic under the pine trees a Rhodes memorial in Cape Town. Back then I used to debone the wings too. Now, no way. Life is too short! I'll see if I can find a good how to on the web for you. It's fun, once in a while, and better cold, I think.or one day I can do a show and tell (and eat),:-)

    Hi Rita, thanks for adding me to your blogroll - I can imagine that seeing one's dinner killed right there must have been rather scary. I know I would eat fewer chickens if I had to do the necessary myself. Not to mention all the plucking. I know some Italian families made their own wine, too, did you father? I was lucky to have a mother who had a huge vegetable garden, so ate a lot of good food too, though at the time I didn't realize that this was special. But the tide is turning again...

  7. Thanks Marie, this is something I'd really like to learn. I thought it looked cool in Julie & Julia but figured it was something no real person would ever do. Clearly I was wrong. You don't seem like an overly fussy cook to me...just a good one.

  8. well, i'm impressed. one one but two chickens. hats off or perhaps bones out!

  9. Funny, with all the talk of local and backyard chickens and all, that more people do not seek out live chickens for eating at one of the many live poultry markets in our city.

    Will it be helpful to hear that a good market goes to a live poultry shop to source their chickens? I think so.

    Halal has been offering me what I cannot seem to get at what used to be called "butchers."


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