I did it! I roasted a chicken all by my lonesome (ok, with the help of my husband Mark who made sure it wasn’t undercooked or overdone) AND I tasted it. It was the first piece of chicken to pass through these lips in nearly 15 years.
Now before anyone gets too excited, I want to state that this chicken is NOT meant to be a “gateway” meat. No, bacon is not next. This is special chicken that I have researched and found to be acceptable for consumption. Its fresh, free range, local, happy chicken whose purchase enables a farmer to make a living.
I had four bites of roasted chicken, and guess what? I didn’t die. It was actually quite surreal, as ridiculous as that probably sounds to all of you meat eaters out there. It wasn’t too greasy or strong-tasting as I feared. I want to be really excited and say that I loved it, but the truth is I just thought it was ok, edible if you will. And believe me, Mark practically licked his plate so I know it wasn’t my cooking methods. I think it will just take time, or maybe I won’t ever reacquire the taste for chicken. I’m just pleased that I didn’t make myself sick about it. I chewed it slowly, intentionally, one bite at a time.
It’s strange how it feels different in my belly than other food does. Its heavier. Or maybe its all in my head? I honestly felt full after my four bites. Hmm, new diet strategy?
My main desire in overcoming my fear of eating chicken stems from my cooking passion. I would like to be able to make a poultry recipe and taste it without the automatic gag reflex. I would like for the presence of chicken broth to not ruin my ability to sample a dish.
I don’t plan to run out to a restaurant and order Chicken Cordon Blue. But if my husband is sampling a delicious curry and it happens to have chicken in it, I’d like to be able to try it without reservation. When Thanksgiving rolls around, I’d like the option of purchasing a free range turkey to prepare and consume. I’ve made many turkeys in my life and always had to take someone’s word that it was edible as I couldn’t bring myself to even have a small bite. Mind over matter, silly girl.
My intention to reintroduce poultry to my diet occasionally is also to help clarify “good” and “bad” foods in my mind. I have vilified all meat as bad. While I somehow justified eating fish years ago, I never took the next step to local, farm raised meats. I realize that some of the “grocery store” fish I purchase is just as processed and farmed as the packaged beef down the aisle. I need to redefine my food choices and do the best that I can to eat a sustainable, healthy, well-rounded diet.
At least I know that I am being more reasonable now and consciously making decisions about what is acceptable to put in my body. I’m attempting to distinguish clean meat from hormone-laden factory farmed garbage. I’m trying to remove the negative label I blanketed on all meat. I’m not sure that I want to eat it on a regular basis but my attitude towards it is changing.
There are several chicken dishes that I would like to be able to prepare and hopefully enjoy. I hope to share these wonderful recipes and experiences with you, chicken by chicken, as they are delivered to my home from Paulie’s Pasture. In the meantime, here is the simple roasted chicken recipe I created last night from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. Hey look Mom, I’m eating chicken! One bite at a time…
Recipe: Simple Roasted Chicken
1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few sprigs fresh tarragon, rosemary, or thyme (optional)
5 or 6 cloves garlic, peeled (optional)
Chopped fresh herbs for garnish
1. Heat the oven to 450F. Five minutes after turning on the oven, put a cast-iron or other heavy ovenproof skillet on a rack set low in the oven. Rub the chicken with the olive oil, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and put the herb sprigs on it if you’re using them.
2. When both oven and pan are hot, 10 or 15 minutes later, carefully put the chicken, breast side up, in the hot skillet; if you’re using garlic, scatter it around the bird. Roast, undisturbed, for 40 to 50 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh registers 155-165F.
3. Tip the pan to let the juices from the bird’s cavity flow into the pan (if they are red, cook for another 5 minutes). Transfer the bird to a platter and let it rest; if you like, pour the pan juices into a clear measuring cup, then pour or spoon off some of the fat. Quarter the bird, garnish with herbs, and serve with the pan juices.