Sunday, December 20, 2009
Revenge Of The Roosters!
Yeah. I kinda thought this might happen.
One of the problems with free-range chicken is that sometimes it can be a mite too free range. It's like the difference between a fit, healthy jogger and an Olympic marathon specialist, y'know? All that butchery yesterday... I took a good, long look at the carcasses in question, and thought: I'm going to slow-cook these bastards. Very carefully.
This I did. And might I say the flavour was astonishing. I jointed the critters, dredged 'em in flour, salt and pepper, and browned 'em in butter. Then I put 'em into a big casserole dish along with onions, mushrooms, garlic, heaps of tarragon, about a litre of chopped roma tomatoes, a cup of white wine and enough stock to bring it up to the level I wanted. The whole schmeer went into the oven at 140C for about three hours.
Meanwhile, I put together a green salad. Sliced up some potatoes, fried 'em with chopped green onions and more tarragon and pepper. And every now and again, I turned the bits of chicken to ensure they cooked nicely.
At the time of serving, I poked the chicken with a knife and fork, and I admit I was slightly dismayed. But I soldiered on, loaded up the kids' plates, and we settled in for a meal.
Elder Son was the first one to crack. He chawed at his drumstick/thigh combination, then paused and looked at it closely. Then he looked at me. Then he grabbed his knife and kind of stabbed it, but nothing much happened.
"I can't eat this," he opined. "This chicken is too tough!"
What I refrained from saying was the truth: that if this chicken had met James Cameron at the right time, Arnold Schwarzenegger's film career would have died in the ass, and the Terminator series would have been made about mutant farm-fowls from the future, not some pansy-ass goddam robot. No... what I actually said was this:
"Come on, boy! We're human beings. Homo sapiens! Your hunter-gather ancestors would have killed for a meal like this! They would have wept over the exquisite flavours, and raised the mighty hunter upon their shoulders in celebration!"
He looked at me again, and had another go.
Meanwhile, Younger Son had put his drumstick/thigh chunk down, and was giving it a very piercing look. I, on the other hand, had the upper half of the bird -- sans wings, which were on the Mau-Mau's plate -- and was busy separating the flight muscles from the breastbone with much growling and gnashing of teeth.
Younger Son looked at me. I growled some more. Then I said: "Dammit, boy! We're at the top of the food chain! We are the uberpredators! Are we going to let ourselves be beaten by a mere chicken? Will we flee the table, admitting that a simple barnyard bird is tougher than we are?"
His eyes narrowed. He raised his chunk of chicken in both hands, lunged forward, and snapped. I saw the tendons in his neck stand out, the muscles at his jaw knot. He growled, and whipped his head back and forth like a savage wolf, and tore a chunk of dark, dark flesh away from the bone.
The Mau-Mau didn't even try. She just licked all the tarragon and tomato off the outside of her chicken wings, ate her salad and potatoes, and demanded custard.
When Natalie came home, the kids were in the bath. I had defeated the upper half the bird by dint of age, experience, bloody-mindedness and the fact that it actually tasted fucking brilliant. Younger Son had dealt with most of a thigh and a significant portion of drumstick, but the sheer bloodlust in his eyes and the vicious growling noises were making me a little nervous, so I let him call it quits. Elder son bent a knife and a fork, and managed a bite of the drumstick.
I stuck some sausages in the lovely casseroly stuff, and whacked it back in the oven. Natalie duly tried the chicken and discovered for herself that it could have gone twelve rounds with Mike Tyson, and still been able to bite the bastard's ear off later. But the casseroled sausages went down really well...
I'm guessing that future roosters from that particular source will be used for the making of stock. And given the flavour of the birds, I think they'll do an excellent job. But there's no way I'm trying anything else with the bastards. There's Sylvester-Stallone-Rambo tough. There's Clint-Eastwood-Dirty-Harry-Tough. There's Jason-Statham-Chev-Chelios-tough.
And then there's free-range, Killer Commando Chicken tough.