The $30. Chicken
It all started with a fancy pan. This beautiful baking pan is by All Clad and it’s what they call their chicken roasting pan. This beautiful pan came as a surprise gift to me from my sweet husband Mr. Darla. He sees things and thinks that I might like them and gets them for me. You may think that this makes me very spoiled… And you’re right! But that’s a different post and not really a problem isn’t…?
This beautiful All Clad pan has an arm that’s designed to hold the chicken up off of the pan so that the entire chicken is exposed to heat. That will allow the chicken to cook more evenly and faster. I gave it a try immediately and the result was the vegetables swimming in oil. The chicken came out pretty good as I recall I don’t have any photographs of the finished chicken, but as you can see here the vegetables were a mess.
I decided to give it another try a couple of days later so I went over to our neighborhood gourmet, farm to market, artisan deli coffee shop, bakery, butchery, charcuterie, dairy and grocer Revival Market. This place is beautiful! I go here often to buy a particular bread and on holidays I go there to buy certain parts of birds to make broth. My dear friend Laura and I go there sometimes and have tea and gasp at the prices and that brings us my friends, to the $30 chicken.
Now friends I’m not broke. And I want to eat well. I want to eat food that’s raised humanely without chemicals if and when possible. And I understand that sometimes you pay more than you want to for food. And most often times, when you do pay more for fresh food it’s so much better, and so worth it. When you do splurge you don’t have to feel guilty. Ready to make chicken happen again while shopping (browsing) at the market I decide to buy a “happy chicken.” I think of a happy chicken as a chicken that’s raised on farm, who gets to walk around and eat bugs and worms, who get chased by dogs and harasses other chickens or whatever chickens do. And according to the beautiful soul behind the butcher’s counter these chickens were indeed happy, their life idyllic.
So I say, “I’ll take one!” (dramatic pause) Friends, that chicken cost $30. I’ll give you a minute here to let that soak in.
Yes, I was taken a little aback, and a little in shock, and quite frankly a little embarrassed that I had done it but there was! ACK! No worries I’m sure it’s going to be succulent and delicious! I could not wait to get my chicken home on that beautiful roasting pan! Dinner was going to be fantastic! Back at the house I open up the butcher paper and there it is my $30 chicken!
I have to admit to you I am a bit underwhelmed. This chicken doesn’t look happy at all. This chicken looks wrinkled, its skin is torn back by its breasts, there some weird skin around one leg and the other one is sticking out weird. The upper leg looks fatter than the other. The whole thing looks and feels kind of dry. But what do I know? I’ve never bought a $30 chicken before! So I decided forge ahead and follow the recipe for the roasted chicken and vegetables. This time I decided to place the vegetables on a rack under the chicken so that the veg would not over cook or sit in the grease.
I trussed the chicken and stuck it in the oven to see which rack would work best. While the oven preheated I rubbed chicken with oil and herbs. I also made a bouquet garni and stuck it inside the chicken.
I hate to keep beating up on this chicken, but do you see how lopsided it is? (granted my trussing skills have never been addressed) I try to set it properly on the rack, and I’ve also try to tie it onto the rack, it just didn’t work. The whole chicken seems to be freakishly bigger on one side than the other. Nevertheless here it is ready to go in the oven. I am sure it’s going to be great!
So I cooked the chicken until he came up to temperature in the thigh. Here it is out of the oven:
Again I’d like for you to notice how one of the legs the skin is completely pulling away from the joint, and then the leg that’s closer to the camera has the skin still intact. You can see the bouquet garni sticking out of the cavity, you can see how crispy the skin is and how it really pulled away from the thigh. The vegetables look okay they appear to be roasted nicely- though some of them have fallen through the holes and down into the grease. All in all it looks horrible. Cutting into it was almost impossible. This chicken was so tough I swear to God it was living on the streets in Chicago in the 70s. I was absolutely horrified by this. I honestly felt like taking the chicken back to the store the day I bought it and opened it up. But I didn’t I cooked it. We did not eat it of course. It was horrible. I hid the price tag from Mr.Darla in my shame of purchase, and the shameful result.
I have cooked many chickens since on this chicken rack and they were delicious. It’s appropriate for me to say here that I buy my chicken at Whole Foods Market. I buy their pasture raised, organic happy chickens and they are delicious every time. I buy whole chickens there and pay about $12 a chicken, and while that’s still quite a bit for chicken, I have yet to get a bad one. The butchers there are cute and friendly and know how to handle their meat. ;-) They are very happy to them cut into pieces for you. And Even after grilling, these WFM chickens stay really juicy and wonderful.
I feel very fortunate that I can buy delicious food, and I feel very fortunate that I have the ability to choose what I eat. I must tell you though I don’t think I’ll ever buy another $30 chicken and makes me a little sad that they’re even out there, shamelessly priced. And worse, sometimes poor quality. I am not saying that perhaps things might have went wrong in the kitchen, I am a newbie cook and roasted chicken should be easy- it’s not. It’s fracking hard to do right, COME ON! LOOK at that raw chicken!
That chicken just ain’t right.
I have to wonder have you ever bought a $30. chicken? How do you decide how much is too much to pay for the food you want to eat?