I grew up in a town where poultry is KING...ranks up there right next to that giant box store that employees XXX~martians (they are not normal people). In fact, my hometown is "affectionately" referred to as Chickendale, seeing as how it is the world capital. Actually, another reason it has that nickname is because you cannot drive down any of the major roads without seeing feathers and I kid you not, it smelled different. As a girl, I spent a large chunk of time at my Daddy's drugstore downtown, which also happened to be the main thoroughfare for the trucks getting to/from the "big highway." It was not uncommon to see chickens of varying degrees of livelihood along the road.
So, once upon a time, when I was younger and a little bit more naive, I felt compelled to rescue a chicken from the side of the street. Downtown Chickendale has a gathering spot known as Shiloh Mall (it really isn't a mall per se, but more accurately it is a tin roof over a concrete area right around the creek that runs through downtown...lots of activities are held there ranging from street dances/parties for teens to chicken dinners and stagecoach rides during Rodeo season...side note, the whole concept of my sister thinking that the July 1st Rodeo Parade is really for her birthday is an entirely different story!)
Where was I?
Oh yeah, Shiloh Mall and runaway chickens. One day, as I was wandering up and down the street downtown (can't do that anymore!) I saw it. I had to have it. I had never touched one that wasn't fried, grilled, smoked or bbq'd. Don't quite remember how I did it, but I caught it!!! And back to the drugstore I trotted carrying a live chicken. "Hi Daddy, look what I got. I am going to keep it as a pet. Its name is Shiloh." That thing went home with us. Then there was the whole dilemma of what to feed it. Cornmeal from the cardboard cylinder was the only thing I could come up with. No clue at all...afterall, this was before the wonder of looking up anything under the sun on the internet and still back in the days of stores closing a 5 or 6pm and Blue Laws prohibiting Sunday business. In my remembering, I had that chicken forever, which loosely translated means more like a day or two. It ultimately went to live with some friends of the family that had chickens. I refuse to believe the rumors that Shiloh eventually turned into Chicken and Dumplings. What did I learn from this? Chickens can manage to get to the top of boxwood hedges. They don't really care for cornmeal out of the cardboard box. I had no clue what I was doing.
What prompted this rambling mess?
I cooked a fabulous chicken the other night.
For all I know, this could be one of Shiloh's descendants, but not likely. I have stopped buying meats from chain grocery stores of any nature, preferring to get it from private butchers. It all has a taste that is far superior to anything else.
Here's how to do up a simple, but super yummy chicken:
As shown above, get a 4 or 5 pound roaster. In a small bowl, mix a couple of tablespoons olive oil, 5 minced garlic cloves, 2 tsp of ground thyme, the zest and juice of one lemon. Stir together then rub the mix all over that there bird. Take the time to lift the skin and tuck some oily seasoning under it. Sometimes I also put slivers of butter under the skin also along with thin lemon slices and/or rosemary sprigs. Don't forget to liberally sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Bake uncovered at 450 F for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375 F and bake for about 75 more minutes. When the bird is a nice golden brown, remove from the oven and cover with foil and let it rest for about 5 minutes.
Sorry there are no after baking shots, but I was slightly lightheaded from my stomach growling and by the time I remembered, there was no usable evidence left.