Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Fourth Pastured Chicken Gets a Dirty Martini Toast

By this point, I’ve cooked enough pastured chickens that I think I deserve a celebratory cocktail – both the bird and me.

It’s no small feat to dress up a chicken, work your hands under the skin, massage it with a mélange of flavors, roast it and then serve it with panache to your favorite guests. Actually, I’ve got it easy. Tricia, the manager of the Hardscrabble Chicken Project at Restoration Farm has to tend to the chickens daily, and then move their free-range pen each night. Then, she’s also in charge of the monthly harvest, which I have yet to work up the courage to witness. We should all focus on our strengths and mine is most likely in the kitchen.

The fourth pastured chicken is Number 6 of the flock and weighs 4.42 pounds. I initially had my hands on chicken Number 1, but I’ve heard you shouldn’t take the first one you see. My friend Matthew from the farm dubbed this bird Irene, because she was one of the brood that weathered the recent hurricane.

She’s a grand old dame indeed, so I dress her up for a night on the town. This month’s recipe – from “A Bird in the Oven and Then Some” by Mindy Fox – is for Roast Chicken with Green Olives, Fennel Seeds and Thyme. It’s definitely got a Mediterranean flair, but with ample helpings of Cerignola olives and lemon zest, it reminds me of a Dirty Martini. Well then, a toast to Irene for her pluckiness through stormy weather!

The recipe is mostly an exercise in chopping. The olives, garlic, lemon zest and fennel are mounded on the cutting board and chopped fine. Note to self – Cerignola olives, which are a shockingly bright shade of green, do not pit easily, even with my super-duper pitting tool. I am forced to practically shave the flesh off each individual olive.

All those fruity and floral flavors get pushed under the skin and then it’s into the oven. Most mixology experts say the origin of the martini is unclear, but I know exactly where this bird came from. The house smells heavenly – or should I say intoxicating – with the aroma of olives and fennel. The skin is less bronze than the previous pastured chickens, but this recipe contains no butter, so the end effect is more golden.


I serve the fourth pastured chicken to my friend Audrey – who is a home design specialist in a very hands-off sort of way – and knows a well dressed chicken when she sees it.

The taste is smart and sophisticated, and to be perfectly honest, any olive lover would probably tell you the leftover breast sliced and served cold over greens the next day was even better!

©2011 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

15 comments:

Barbara said...

Irene's a class act, that's for sure. Those are beautiful robust flavors under her skin; tell me you all enjoyed a dirty martini while inhaling those divine (and intoxicating) fragrances in your house. You are getting very creative with your Restoration Farm chickens, T. W. They truly are gorgeous plump birds and if they're going to be named, it's better not to be in on their demise. :)
Nice photo of you!

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

I can eat chicken every day and be happy, but I grew up in a state that produces a lot of chickens. In college we ate so much chicken a classmate once commented that if we ate one more chicken we would lay and egg.

I had to smile at your olive pit story. I have a pitter too and the thought of shaving olives sounds like a lot of trouble. Your end result proves it was worth the effort.

As for martinis, I like a smoky vodka martini.
Cheers!
Sam

lostpastremembered said...

Thing is, don't those pastured chickens just LOOK better? They are so healthy looking with gorgeous skin. Love the olives... Toulouse Lautrec used them with birds... I think they are fab together. Lucky friend that gets to share them!!

Kat said...

That's a good lookin' bird! I love chicken any way it is served but especially roasted.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

This chicken might be the closest I get to a dirty martini! It looks lovely, and while I was reading your post, I was really thinking about how good the breast, with all of those olives and lemon, would be the next day, sliced cold on a piece of toast.

Kalyn said...

Sounds good, and it's also fun to see a photo of you at home in the kitchen!

Anonymous said...

omg, we were supposed to pick up another bird!?! Thanks for this recipe -- looks beautiful! Now I have to go get my chicken!!!!!! From Natalia!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Natalia - don't rush! I kept the chicken in the freezer for a week or so - it's from the last harvest!

Ashley@Bakerbynature said...

My olive fanatic family would love this!

~~louise~~ said...

Dressed to the nines and looking fine that "dirty" girl of yours, T.W.

I dressed a chicken yesterday too. Of course mine was not as fresh and intoxicating as yours but I must admit, Marion sure seemed to like it. I also roasted potatoes with onions and apples. I find the combination of fennel seeds and Cerignola olives in your dressing rather intriguing. I've made a note.

Here's lookin @ You and Irene!!! Thanks for sharing...

Gloria said...

Thomas this look absolutely delicious and I love the pictures!! gloria

Catherine said...

Thomas, I am certain this was a delicious meal. Blessings, Catherine

Mary said...

She died for a good cause :-). Your chicken sounds amazing and begs to be tried. Rest assured it will be. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

veron said...

Luscious bird...is that a word to describe food? :) making me hungry and I had only instant ramen for lunch. Great job!!

Diana said...

Now that looks good enough to eat!!! and we just happen to have a chicken in the freezer. Thanks for sharing this recipe... can't wait to try it.