Food + Drink

From the Chronicle Kitchen:
Chicken and Egg

I’m delighted that Janice Cole has agreed to be a guest blogger for us once again.

Have you thought about raising chickens in your suburban or urban outdoor space? Are super fresh eggs REALLY as amazing as everyone says? Do you agree with Thomas Keller that roast chicken is the perfect food (and would you agree with Thomas that it would be your last meal on earth)?

We’ll be giving away a copy of Chicken and Egg to one lucky person selected at random from the comments next Wednesday, August 3.

It’s been the summer of wacky weather in many places across the country, including here in Minnesota where we’ve already had heat indexes of 115ºF, with more heat predicted in the coming days. Not only does heat of that magnitude affect us but it also can be harmful to our pets, particularly my four chickens who can’t sprawl in an air-conditioned house like our cats or the neighbor’s dogs. Instead, they are left to hide under my big-leafed hostas and hydrangea bushes desperately seeking shade and cool moist soil.

Chickens wear a coat of thick downy feathers and don’t have sweat glands, so they feel the heat more acutely than some animals. In fact, it can be more important and often more difficult to keep chickens cool in the summer than warm enough in the winter. They pant like dogs and need a constant source of cool water and yet my chicks shy away from mists of water and haven’t yet mastered the knack of wading in a shallow pool of cool water. I do my best to keep them cool but I’ve learned to expect fewer eggs because they need to conserve their energy for keeping cool.

To keep cool myself in hot weather I try to keep the oven off and rely on the grill. One of my favorite hot summer recipes is Garlicky Butterflied Chicken. This flat-grilled whole chicken with only six ingredients is a snap to make. (Yes, I still eat and enjoy chicken, although I don’t eat my own chickens as they’re kept just for eggs and are treated like pets.)

Ask your butcher to remove the backbone so the chicken opens flat like a book. Slather garlic-oil under the skin and over the chicken. If your herbs are taking over your garden as mine are, pick a handful of basil, mint, tarragon, thyme and/or rosemary, then coarsely chop and stuff them under the skin and over the chicken. The chicken is grilled over direct heat resulting in golden brown crispy skin. Serve with your favorite summer salads.

—Janice Cole

Garlicky Butterflied Chicken

When you butterfly a chicken by removing its backbone, you can lay the chicken flat while grilling, so it’s all the same thickness. It’s the best method for quick, even cooking. The chicken is basted with garlic oil on both sides while it’s cooking, producing a heavenly aroma and crackling-crisp skin.

Serves 4

4 large garlic cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
One 4-pound chicken, backbone removed

Mash the garlic cloves and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt with the side of a chef’s knife, or process in a small food processor, until the garlic and salt form a paste. Transfer to a small bowl and add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the parsley, pepper, and olive oil. Stir together until blended.

Preheat the grill to medium. Spread the chicken out on a cutting board, breast-side up. Loosen the skin of the chicken over the breast meat and thighs by gently slipping your hand between the skin and the meat to create a pocket, being careful not to tear the skin. Spread a quarter of the garlic mixture under the skin, and spread the remainder over both sides of the chicken.

Grill the chicken, covered, over medium heat or coals for 45 to 50 minutes, turning every 15 minutes, or until no longer pink in the center and the internal temperature of the chicken at the thickest point of the thigh (without touching the bone) registers 175ºF. Remove from the grill, cover loosely with foil, and let sit for 10 minutes before carving and serving.

To carve the chicken, make a diagonal cut below the breast and remove the legs. Cut between the drumsticks and thighs to separate them. Cut the breast in half down the center and cut each breast half in half again crosswise (leaving on the wings), for a total of 8 pieces of chicken.

Purchase Chicken and Egg.

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  • michelle July 27, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I love chickens as food and as pets. A long time ago when my pet chickens were getting picked off by predators (some even before dark) I realized that chickens are for dinner, if not mine then someone elses.


  • Terry Golson July 27, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    And what you need with this meal is a watermelon and mint salad. Give the watermelon rinds to the chickens. It will keep them hydrated!


  • Janel July 27, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I am so disappointed that the farm near my house has stopped selling eggs! It was always so fun, and tasty, to bring home a carton of "Easter" eggs.


  • Paul Stephen July 27, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    My peeps have been lucky girls this summer, they stay cool with leftover watermelon rinds. It's a ton of fun to watch them bash their little birdy faces into the remaining fruit and come up all soaked with a big chunk of melon as a prize.


  • Christy July 28, 2011 at 6:55 am

    Yummy sounding and looking recipe!

    We used to raise chickens to eat and for eggs ~ I'm thinking we should do it again. 😉


  • beth July 28, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Here's hoping for some chickens in our future. I've been doing the research about housing for them, and I think it might be possible. I think three would be the magic number. I would call them Gilda, Garbo and Talullah. The fresh eggs from these girls would be fabulous! I've had a chance to look at this book, based on the review from @Alabamachanin. The photos and recipes are real winners!


  • MarciaW July 28, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    My mother wants to raise chickens. This would be a good book for her.


  • Peter August 3, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Congrats go to…Terry – you win a copy of Janice's wonderful cookbook! Thanks to all for your posts.


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