I was in the middle of replying to a post in the blog
Prepare to Meet Your Bakerina and as my reply got longer… and longer… and longer… and longer, I realized that I couldn’t possibly fill her blog up with such verbosity.
We often buy chickens to roast. We don’t usually buy chickens from the supermarket though (brrrr). We go to a poultry store – St.Andrew’s chicken in Kensington market in Toronto has really good chicken at good prices. (no, I don’t have shares in the company.) It doesn’t take any longer for us to do our grocery shopping at the market than it does at a supermarket – in fact it’s probably less. And the prices as well as quality of goods are better.
It never even occurred to me to notice whether the price of pre-roasted chicken was less than an uncooked one. I’m not even sure if the chicken store we go to sells pre-roasted chickens… remind me to check.
But in the summer, there’s nothing better than going to a churrasqueira (there are several in our neighbourhood) and getting a spit-roasted chicken to take on a picnic. From a good churrasqueira (and we haven’t yet found any that aren’t good) those roasted chickens are fabulous. And they usually have vegetables – chopped zucchini, onions, tomatoes – in the trays below that have been cooking underneath all those rotating chickens – vegetables that are thoroughly cooked by chicken juices and spices caught from above. And roasted potatoes. Or
dirty rice (that isn’t nearly as good as our rice but there is something about it that I love anyway).
And one of the very best roasted chickens I ever had was on a rainy day in Orange. We had planned to bicycle that day to Avignon but it was raining so heavily that we decided to wait it out and have a leisurely snack at the local farmer’s market. There was a fellow selling spit-roasted chickens, quail and guineafowl. They were mahogany coloured and the smell was unbelievable! There were many well dressed people buying them to take home for their Thursday dinners. We got a quail that was put into a heavy paper bag. The fellow asked if we wanted vegetables – tomatoes and zucchini that were caramelizing over the fire below the rotating spits. Yes, please!! So those were poured into the same bag over top of the roasted bird. We took our bag over to a big wooden table that was covered by a giant umbrella and split the bag open releasing the delicious steam. And like savages, we ate it all with our hands, quail juices and sauce dripping down our chins and the rain pouring down around us. We were in heaven. Let it rain!
When I was growing up, Mom would occasionally buy a spit roasted chicken from the store. It was always a treat. This is not because we didn’t like my mom’s roast chicken! Au contraire! My mom makes fabulous roast chicken! But the storebought chickens usually had different spices on the outside. And there was something wonderful about the chicken coming out of a steamy heavy paper bag that was covered in chicken fat. And everyone loved the storebought pre-roasted chickens. But it didn’t stop Mom from buying whole chickens or turkeys to roast at home. There would have been a major revolution if that had happened! Helloooooo! Dressing? And while we didn’t have dressing every time we had roast chicken, we would have missed the wonderful aromas of roasting chicken. What can be better? It happens almost immediately that the chicken goes into the oven too and the wonderful aroma lasts til after dinner. (Not to mention that there are perfect makings for chicken stock….) Those long-lasting delicious aromas do not occur when one buys a pre-roasted chicken.
So even if I find out that pre-roasted chickens are less expensive that raw chickens, I’m still going to pay the extra. We’re worth it.
edit 4 April 2008:
*The recipe for Tagliatelle with Chicken from the Venetian Ghetto used to be housed on www.stylenetwork.com along with other recipes from “Nigella Bites”. Sadly, neither Lawson’s show nor this fabulous recipe is in stylenetwork’s archives any longer. However, you may be able to see it by plugging http://www.stylenetwork.com/Shows/Nigella/Recipes/tagliatelle.html into the Wayback Machine search window of the Internet Archive. (The recipe is also in How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food by Nigella Lawson.)