While I love whole roasted chicken, it is also satisfying to butcher a chicken and see all of the different cuts laid out and consider their potential. I have no particular skill in butchery, making it up as I go along, but I think chickens are quite generous to amateurs so long as you know what you’re aiming for. A sharp knife is the main thing. The chicken produced: 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings and a carcass with bits of meat clinging to the bones.
I initially embarked on the project so I could obtain two thighs to make Nigella Lawson’s fried chicken sandwich. I had defrosted a chicken to do this, so couldn’t re-freeze the other cuts of meat and thus, we had a week shaped by chicken dishes. A more practical course of action would be to butcher a fresh chicken and freeze the different cuts for another time. It was rather an intense few days of eating chicken but pleasurable nonetheless, and there’s still some stock leftover, perhaps for a leek and potato soup tomorrow.
On Saturday I made the Nigella fried chicken sandwich.
I marinaded the chicken first, as per instructions, and made a white sandwich loaf (the first I had ever baked) from the ‘Cook, Eat, Repeat’ book/tv series. It was a rather long day – significantly on account of my not having done washing up from the previous day and having to do a marathon session at the sink midway through cooking – but the loaf was perfect (very exciting!) and the sandwich an all-round hit.
On Sunday afternoon I made a stock using the raw carcass (which, in my experience makes a better stock than that from leftover roast) and left it to cool with a lid on overnight. In the evening, I adapted a recipe I had seen in the skills test on ‘Masterchef: The Professionals’, and made pan roasted chicken breast with mushroom, mustard and brandy cream sauce. I used parsley instead of tarragon, breast instead of thigh, which I put it in an oven after initially sealing it then placing it on some greaseproof paper in the pan, and dijon mustard instead of wholegrain and cream instead of creme fraiche. We had it with oven chips and some mixed steamed greens with salt and pepper. Very, very good sauce. Very good with chips.
On Monday lunch time I strained some of the stock and made a light chicken soup with noodles and carrots and parsley inspired by a twitter conversation with the artist Tai Shani. It was light and restoring.
On Tuesday morning, I skinned then marinaded the remaining drumsticks and wings to the totally sensational Madhur Jaffrey chicken tikka masala recipe (Jaffrey uses breast), then in the evening made the sauce which didn’t take too long, and grilled the meat. I served it with shredded iceberg, sliced raw onion and fresh coriander with a wedge of lemon, yogurt raitha made with dried mint and a pinch of sugar and salt, and chapatis. And well, let me say, very much a platonic ideal of tikka masala cooked in a home kitchen.