Chicken

This is one of a group of poultry (others are duck, goose, guinea fowl .and turkey) that are domestic birds specially

reared for the table. The very small chickens (poussins) weigh about 1 to ½ pounds and are usually 6 weeks old.

Spring chickens are 3 months old and weigh between 2 to 2J pounds. The larger roasting chickens are up to one year old and weigh 3 to 4 pounds.

Boiling fowl are larger, older birds which are tougher and therefore require longer, slower cooking, such as boiling or braising.

Capons are castrated young cocks which have been specially fattened. Their flesh is white and delicate and they usually

weigh from 6 to 10 pounds.

At one time chicken was expensive and considered a luxury dish, but now, with the introduction of broiler house reared

birds, chickens are in greater supply and are an economical buy.

Chickens are usually sold trussed, that is, ready for the oven. A good chicken has tender firm flesh and should have a plump breast. Many oven-ready chickens are frozen, in which case it is important that the bird is completely thawed before

cooking.

If you buy an untrussed bird, look for a really fresh one. The signs to look for are the same as for a trussed bird, but

check that the feet are black or white epending on the breed of bird). A yel-low colour is a give-away to an old tough

one.

Chicken may be cooked in a variety of ways-roasted, braised or casseroled, and small pieces are ideal for frying or grilling . The giblets (excluding the liver) and bones make excellent chicken stock. If the stock is not required

immediately, it can be frozen in a home freezer for future use. For this pour the cooled stock into plastic containers

leaving a ½ inch space between the top of the stock and the lid. Cool the stock to room temperature, skim off the excess

fat, then cover.

Chicken livers are delicious served on their own either grilled or fried, and also make superb pate, risotto or after

dinner savouries.

A chicken is trussed so that it keeps its shape during cooking and is therefore easier to carve.

The simplest way to truss a bird is with a skewer and a piece of string. Push the skewer right through the bird just below the thigh bone. Turn the bird on to its breast. Catch in the wing pinions with the string, pass the string under the ends

of the skewer and cross it over the back. Turn the bird over, pass the string over the drumsticks and tie under the parson’s nose.

To truss a chicken in the traditional way it is necessary to have a long trussing needle and strong fine string.

1. Place the flap of skin neatly over the back of the neck and fold the pinions or ends of the wings backwards over the flap to hold it in position.

2. Put the chicken on its back with the breast away from you. Press the legs well into the sides, as this raises and plumps the breast. Thread the needle and push it through the lower part of the carcass.

3. Pass the string over one drumstick, through the tip of the breastbone and over the other drumstick. Tie firmly.

4. Re-thread the needle and thrust it through the carcass where the drumstick and the second joint meet and then out the other side.

5. Turn the chicken over and push the needle through the wing, the neck flap on either side of the back bone, and then the other wing. Tie firmly.

Rub salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of butter all over and inside a medium-sized chicken. Stuff it, if liked. Place it in a roasting tin in the oven preheated to hot 425 °F (Gas Mark 7, 220 °C) for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to moderate 350 °F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C) and roast the chicken, basting every 10 minutes with

2 tablespoons of melted

butter mixed with

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, until it is tender. After the first 15 minutes of cooking, turn the bird on its side and, after a further 15 minutes, on its other side. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the tin, cut and remove the trussing string and keep the chicken hot on a serving dish or board. Leave it for 5 minutes at room temperature before

carving. Roasting Times: A 2-pound oven-ready chicken takes from 50 to 60 minutes to roast. Add between 10 and 15 minutes

for every additional pound.

Rub salt and pepper all over a 31/2-pound chicken, inside and out. Place half an onion, a garlic clove, a parsley sprig, a bay

leaf and a thyme spray inside the bird. Truss the bird. Melt 4 ounces of butter in a shallow flameproof dish over moderate

heat. Put the chicken into the melted butter and turn it so that it is well coated all over. Place it in the oven

preheated to very hot 450°F (Gas Mark 8, 230CC) and baste it with the butter in the dish every 7 minutes during the whole

of the cooking time. Turn the bird on its side after 20 minutes and on its other side after a further 15 minutes. A

medium-sized bird of 3J pounds will take about 1 to 1|- hours. By this time the chicken will be golden brown. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the dish, cut off the trussing string, place the chicken on a serving dish and keep it hot. Put the cooking dish over high heat. Add 4 fluid

Push a threaded trussing needle through the lower part of the carcass. Pass the string over one drumstick, through the tip

of the breastbone and over the other drumstick. Tie firmly.

Then re-thread the needle and thrust it through the top of the carcass, above the wings, where the drumstick and the second joint meet and then out the other side.

Turn the chicken over and push the needle through the wing, the neck flap on either side of the back bone, and then the other wing. Tie firmly.

Tie the string ends firmly together. Rub salt and pepper all over the skin of the chicken. It is now ready to be roasted, braised or casseroled.

ounces of wine or stock to the cooking juices and bring it to the boil. Boil briskly for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Taste the sauce and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Strain the sauce into a sauceboat.

Put the chicken into a pan with enough cold salted water to just cover the bird. Add a sliced onion and carrot and a bouquet garni. Place the pan over high heat and bring to the boil. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to very low and simmer

gently until the chicken is tender, skim-ming occasionally.

The chicken will take from 45 minutes to 12 hours to cook, depending on the size of the bird. These timings relate only to

young birds, since older boiling fowls require at least 2 to 3 hours. To test the bird to see if it is cooked, pierce the thigh with a sharp knife. If the liquid that oozes out is clear, then the bird is cooked.

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