I’ve never thought of a chicken as being sexy. I grew up around them, and the chickens of my youth were ordinary no-nonsense chickens. They were hearty, stalwart, Midwestern varieties we could fry, roast, or stew. Familiar varieties were the Plymouth Rock, the Rhode Island Red, and the Leghorn.
“We’re Not Running A Beauty Pageant Here”
The above was a quote from my father when my siblings and I asked if we could get some banty chickens. As a result, we had no exotic designer cockerels roaming our farm. There were no Polish varieties decked out in multi-colored feathers with Phyllis Diller coiffed combs. And no French varieties that looked as if they could be right at home strolling along the Champs-Elysées.
My father didn’t want sexy chickens. He wanted chickens with muscled legs, chubby thighs, and breasts with plenty of white meat. They were simply meant to provide simple food for simple folk. Besides, when all of the feathers from those rare birds were removed, they all looked about the same. And not that attractive.
I’ve always thought the sight of a processed chicken straight out of its supermarket wrapping appeared to be a bit sad. I could feel its shame lying there nude on the counter. Headless and on its back in a somewhat suggestive pose, it helplessly awaited its fate. Now a true gentleman would have immediately cut it up, dredged it in flour, and fried it. But I had other plans. I wanted to take a French Bistro approach and roast it.
Bistro Roast Chicken
Note: First of all bistro food is basic unpretentious food served in a casual setting. It’s French comfort food. Although the dishes are simple and the recipes are not complicated, high preparation standards and innovative approaches are maintained.
The recipe I used came from Thomas Keller’s cookbook, Bouchon, and was entitled Simple Roast Chicken. As it states in the directions, truss the bird, salt and pepper it, put it in a roasting pan, and bake it an hour in the oven. And that’s it. For my recipe, click on “Simple Bistro Roasted Chicken.”
You’re probably asking yourself, “How can this work?” The meat should be dry and tasteless, but it’s not. It’s very moist and delicious. When it’s done, you can slather it with butter or you can dip your bites into something like an apricot mustard sauce. As I said, you can but it really doesn’t need it. According to Chef Keller, “maybe you’ll start eating it with a knife and fork, but you’ll finish with your fingers because it’s so good.” And we did. And it was.
Note: Speaking of eating chicken with your fingers, for an entertaining scene of two people devouring the carcass of a chicken, check out the eating scene in the movie, Tom Jones. It proves eating a chicken really can be sexy, although I must admit in this dining escapade the chicken played only a minor role.