roast chicken

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.

Speaking of roast chicken, I think maybe we neeeeeed to get a chicken this weekend to make Nigella Lawson’s Tagliatelle with Chicken from the Venetian Ghetto*

edit 4 April 2008:
*The recipe for Tagliatelle with Chicken from the Venetian Ghetto used to be housed on 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 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.)

3 responses to “roast chicken

  1. Julie

    I’m so with you on this, Elizabeth. When I lived for a summer in Aix-en-Provence, I used to get wonderful roast chicken with vegetables, just as you describe, from a charming butcher down the street from my little apartment in town. And I love pollo a la brasa, Peruvian-style roast chicken which I first ate in Peru, but which has become more and more widely available in NYC. But there’s plenty of terrible pre-roasted chicken out there too — and I feel sad for folks who can’t or won’t roast a chicken for themselves on occasion. You’re right — one doesn’t replace the other. It’s a matter of knowing what the options are, and when you have the time or inclination for one or the other.

  2. Julie

    Oh — and not to be too long-winded here either, but I metioned on Bakerina’s site that I too awakened this morning thinking of Nigella’s tagliatelle and chicken — before I read your comment! There’s a dish which absolutely wouldn’t work with pre-roasted chicken, since the whole point is using the lovely pan juices from your own roast chicken…

  3. ejm Post author

    I saw that, Julie! And you’re right I can’t even imagine trying to make Nigella’s chicken with a pre-roasted chicken from the store. I’m constantly amazed at how much I adore Nigella’s chicken. Under normal circumstances, I can’t stand golden raisins. But in her dish, they are a must, aren’t they? We made it with Thompson raisins once when we had run out of golden raisins. It was good but not quite AS good.

    (No worries about being longwinded. Nobody could possibly compete with me in that department. :^D)

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