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About Poultry

 

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Poutry: Chicken and Turkey

In his landmark tome Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith pointed out that the chicken was then treated as a kind of free resource for the farmer. It fed on grain that had been dropped and it produced eggs. Then, at some point, the chicken was considered a delicacy as a meat dish and the price of chickens became dear. It would not be until statisticians worked with agricultural biologists right after World War II that the chicken would be bred to get large and produce lots of edible flesh, and intense chicken farming would become a big business.

Chicken has a host of advantages. Grown on a large scale, chickens work as little meat factories. They grow very quickly to an edible size - it takes less than twelve weeks for a chick to reach broiler status. And their meat is tender and never objectionable. Furthermore, all cultures allow chicken as a food. This fowl is always good table fare.

Turkey is a new-world food. It shares many of the advantages of the chicken, though turkeys need more space and grow a little more slowly. Their meat is a little tougher and it is a little more flavorful.

Chicken

Chicken is available whole in several sizes

The names conveniently suggest the best cooking methods. The broiler is best butterflied and cooked at 450F on a bed of onions, carrots, and celery for 45 minutes, then rested at 200F for 10-15 min. The fryer is ideally suited to frying. Here I am out of my league, but I am almost certain that the best stuff for frying chicken must be rendered bacon fat. Only fully saturated fats stand up well to the heat of frying without exceessive oxidation. Bacon fat is this, and bacon fat is full of lovely flavors that make chicken delicious. But I'm sure I am the only culinary writer on the planet advocating this method.

The stewing chicken is the chicken of soup and stock. And a good chicken soup or chicken stock is one of the culinary world's many underused commodities. It is trivially easy to show that the chicken stock one buys in cans is not up to the task: it has not sign of gel. A good stock must have some of the thickness of collagen - that is the luxury one finds in stocks. Get your own stewing chicken: make your own stock .

The capon, I understand, can be cooked by roasting or by any of these methods.

Today, it is quite common to be able to buy chicken meat as parts. This is a delightful state of affairs because white meat and dark meat are so different in qualities that it is almost as if they come from different animals. The breast is ideal cooked as cutlets of some sort. The wings are ideal cooked as appetizers. The thighs and drumsticks are perfect for stews and fricassees. So most of the time when one is cooking chicken meat it is convenient to be dealing with one part of the bird.

Chicken Picatta

There are two or three preparations of the chicken breast that are so fast, so easy, so delicious, that they deserve mention here. One is chicken piccata. This requires chicken breasts, a bit of flour, several ripe lemons, butter, and capers, perhaps black olives and flat-leaved parsley as garnish. Artichoke hearts are a perfect side dish.

  1. Place 2 chicken breasts one at a time in a heavy plastic bag on a sturdy counter. Beat with a large, heavy pan until they are uniformly 1./4 inch thick.
  2. Squeeze two lemons to get 1/4 cup lemon juice.
  3. Measure 1/4 cup capers with about 1 teaspoon of the pickling juice.
  4. Crush and mince 2 garlic cloves.
  5. Lightly coat the chicken breasts with pastry or barley flour and a little salt and pepper. Shake off the excess.
  6. In a heavy 10 inch fry pan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil until just smoking, high heat.
  7. Cook the chicken breasts for three minutes on one side.
  8. Flip the chicken breasts. Place the garlic in the oil, in contact with the pan. Stir, cook for about a minute or two.
  9. At two minutes, pour the lemon juice, capers, olives into the pan. Stir, reduce heat and cook for two more minutes at low heat.

This simple preparation takes less than ten minutes total and is a culinary delight.

Fricasseed Chicken Thighs

Of course, the classic recipe for chicken thighs is chicken cordon bleu in which the boned thigh is stuffed with ham and cheese, ( maybe even blanched asparagus - wouldn't that be lovely) and fried until crispy on the outside, tender inside.

This fricassee is a rogue version of chicken paprikash.

  1. Mix 1/4 cup pastry flour, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp sweet hungarian paprika
  2. Chop 1 onion.
  3. Heat 1 pint of sour cream to 115-120F, covered, in a microwave. This should take roughly a minute.
  4. Prepare batter for one batch of Bisquick biscuits or use your own southern biscuit recipe.
  5. Lightly coat 6 -8 chicken thighs with this mix
  6. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the bottom of a Dutch Oven
  7. Fry the chicken thighs on all sides until golden brown, about 6 - 8 minutes at high heat. Remove and cover with foil.
  8. Saute the onion until transluscent, about 5 minutes at medium heat.
  9. Add
    • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
    • 1 teaspoon ancho chile pepper
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 dash chipotle pepper
  10. Raise the heat and stir continuously until spices start to stick to the bottom of the Dutch oven.
  11. At this point, immediately lower the heat to low,
    • add 1/4 white wine or beer, stir, scraping the bottom
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • add 1 pint of sour cream, stir well
    • add the chicken thighs
    • place the biscuit mix on top of the whole thing
    • cover with a lid.
  12. Place the whole thing in the oven set at 350F
  13. Bake for 30 minutes until the biscuit topping is fully cooked, remove the lid during the last ten minute for some light browning.
  14. Serve with a green vegetable, peas with mushrooms would be perfect.
Chicken Quesadillas

Chicken Quesadillas transform leftover chicken, tortillas, and cheese into a little bit of culinary heaven. Use leftover roasted chicken or use chicken that has been poached .

  1. Slice half a breast of chicken, or dice the thigh and a drumstick into pieces 1/8 th inch thick.
  2. Place in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of broth or poaching liquid, a pinch of salt, some pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder. Add a tiny dash of olive oil.
  3. Cover, and microwave for two minutes.
  4. In a good, nonstick heavy aluminum pan or two, heat two tortillas. I use corn, but most prefer flour.
  5. Place enough cheese on the tortillas to amount to about 1/8 inch . I usually use slices. Cheddar works, Jarlsburg has a more interesting flavor and texture, but Pepper Jack is the best sort.
  6. Cook at Medium Heat for four minutes until the tortilla is cripsy golden.
  7. Distribute the heated cooked chicken among the quesadillas.
  8. Place another tortilla on each, flip, and cook for four more minutes.
  9. Serve with at least three of the following: guacamole, salsa, sour cream, pico de gallo, beer with fresh lime.
Turkey

Given that turkey got such a late start in the culinary landscape, it is a testament to its unique qualities that it is prevalent today. Almost every form of meat product made from pork has been attempted with turkey - breakfast sausage, Italian sausage, and lunchmeat style ham. Bacon has not, nor will since turkey is not marbled.

The classic preparation of turkey is the Thanksgiving holiday roast turkey. But other preparations can be both more pleasing and more practical; just like the chicken, the turkey is made of parts that cook very differently. Again, the dark meats make for great fricassees. The light meats make for good cutlets. It is possible that it is the ground meat of the turkey that is the best. There are a number of excellent brands of turkey breakfast sausage, turkey Italian sausage, and turkey hot sausage nationally available in major metro areas. And for those avoiding red meats or pork, they are an excellent alternative. Butterball and Jennie-O both have great recipe sites.

Turkey-Stuffed Cabbage
  1. Heat 8 quarts of water
  2. Preheat oven to 350F
  3. In a saucepan or a covered glass bowl heat the contents of a jar of spaghetti sauce or simply use canned crushed tomatoes.
  4. Dice and saute 1 onion, 1 red bell pepper, and 2 stalks of celery.
  5. Mix 1 package of ground turkey, about 24 oz, with the sauteed vegetables
  6. Add
  7. Remove the leaves from one head of Napa cabbage.
  8. Blanch the leaves in boiling water for 45-90 seconds.
  9. Remove and blot dry. They should be just soft enough to easily roll around a finger.
  10. Take golf-ball sized bits of ground turkey, and roll them in the cabbage leaves. place in a 9x13 Pyrex baking dish
  11. The rolls should be about the right quantity to make one layer.
  12. Pour the tomato sauce over the top, cover with aluminum foil, and bake in oven at 350 for 45 minutes.
  13. Serve with riced potatoes.

 

 

Eat well, and prosper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright S.R. Brubaker 2002 - 2006.