Chicken's Moment

 Mother's "Basted" (Roast) Chicken, a Savoring Kentucky preparation

Mother's "Basted" (Roast) Chicken, a Savoring Kentucky preparation

Chicken is:

  • Ultimate comfort food. Reasonably healthy. When the chicken had a good upbringing, we carnivores can comfort ourselves with roast chicken and still feel comfortable in both body and mind after we eat.
  • A current obsession for many urban gardeners. In Lexington, CLUCK ("Coop"erative of Lexington Urban Chicken Keepers) hosts a popular annual "Tour de Coops" that attracts hundreds interested in seeing—or perhaps starting—urban chicken farming. So far, most backyard chicken keepers aim for eggs, not meat.
  • A new darling in upscale, big city restaurants, with prices ranging upwards of $70 per meal. And yes, we care about this, not because we plan to eat at a restaurant that brines a chicken for days, dries it for days, then cooks it sous-vide for a day, then browns it in an 800 degree wood-fired oven, with goodies tucked under the skin. Nope. We were just talking about that kind of eating out. A big reason we care: Kentucky growers produce exquisite chicken, but have had trouble getting it onto Kentucky high-end restaurant menus because we, the customers, do not recognize chicken as "eating out" food, worthy of eating out prices, even when that chicken had a high class, expensive upbringing. We can change, though, and perhaps we will, inspired by the high flying chickens on menus in New York City and Boston.
  • A long-time Savoring Kentucky interest. We took up this topic with two favorite people, Elmwood Stock Farm owner Ann Bell Stone and Holly Hill Inn chef Ouita Michel five years ago. Perhaps the reported change in roast chicken's cachet on elite restaurant menus will help Kentucky's most careful chicken producers. Holly Hill Inn will try out this theory this coming weekend, when the "Holiday in Spain" menu will include "Rivercrest Pollo con Piñones—Pan-roasted breast of chicken stuffed under the skin with Capriole goat cheese, served with a sauce of pine nuts and sweet-and-sour Catalan honey-roasted acorn squash."
  • Easy for you to make at home, using Mother's "Basted" (Roast) Chicken, one of our fine family recipes. Start with a sustainability grown chicken from a farmer you know. If I were a realtor, I would advise clients to bake this—not chocolate chip cookies—when the house is being shown. Sales, at least to meat-eaters, would surely accelerate.
  • A favorite food at Lexington's Alfalfa Restaurant: Chicken Talese, a sautéed breast (or two) on a bed of spinach and sautéed mushrooms, drizzled with an amazing Swiss cheese-based sauce. As part of the restaurant's continual effort to support local growers, Alfalfa diners now can choose between conventionally raised chicken and Kentucky-grown, pastured, Marksbury Farm-processed chicken. The Marksbury chicken costs a bit extra.
  • A favorite food at Lexington's a la lucie restaurant: Chicken a la lucie (sometimes known also as Chicken Ferrari and Chicken Fred)—"Pan Fried Chicken Breast topped with Artichoke au Gratin and Bordelaise"—a dish that calls me into the restaurant a least quarterly, after which I immediately start anticipating my next encounter with its crunch and savor.
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