I decided to splash out on a whole chicken last week. Label Anglais are the Rolls Royce of the chicken world. They are raised slowly and allowed to mature, and celebrity chefs make glowing references to them.Although they are pricier than supermarket chickens (around £10 for a medium one) you can easily get 3 meals out of a bird once you’ve picked over the meat for a salad and boiled the carcass up for soup or stock.
I quickly bought a modest looking bird from Wyndham House Poultry at Borough Market before I could change my mind, and they generously chucked in the giblets and knocked off a pound because they’re very nice like that.
I got home and began to day dream. I decided this was going to be the mother of all roasts, and got the spuds in, the stuffing the lot. Nothing would be better than succulent golden chicken with perfect roasties and a few token peas on the side. How wrong I was.
As I opened the bag my stomach did more than turn it positively fled. Yes, said chicken was off, rancid and full of listeria and god knows what else. I was so desperate to eat it I tried everything, even rinsing it in several changes of water. But no, one sniff from the other half confirmed that it was beyond the grave and if I ate it I might die.
I rang the market on Wednesday and they were fantastic. I mean, think about it, it’s not like Sainsbury’s where you take your receipt and they give you a five pound voucher to say please don’t call the Dept of Health. It was all based on trust. I wasn’t once asked to prove anything (how could I?). Instead they explained that it’s impossible for them to monitor the entire production process and very occasionally they do come across a rogue one. I was summoned back to the stall, where I was duly given another Label Anglais twice the size of the original and “whatever I wanted”.I felt like a kid in a sweetshop and took as much as I could carry. My faith in poultry has been restored.
So finally the much anticipated roast was made. And what a roast it was. I Googled “best roast chicken” and in the end cobbled together a combination of Jamie Oliver’s perfect lemon and thyme roast chicken (I liked his idea about sticking a hot lemon in the chicken cavity to steam it from within – this made it incredibly moist) Delia’s Chicken Giblet Gravy and my own touches. I cooked the potatoes around the chicken which imbued them with a gorgeous savouriness. I seasoned the bird inside and out and placed the lemon, lemon thyme and garlic in the cavity. I gently massaged a mixture of sage, garlic, lemon thyme, sea salt and paprika under the skin. Finally I sprinkled a little Steenberg’s poultry salt on the skin and drizzled the bird with truffle olive oil. It was the best roast chicken I’ve ever had. The butter melted into the herb scentedflesh and the lemon moistened it from within. The skin was salty, crisp and garlicky and it was very very difficult to not pick at it during the requisite resting time. In short, it was delectable. Even the other half had second (and third) helpings and he claims not to even like roast chicken.I can’t wait to try the sausages, the duck breast, the smoked chicken and the eggs.
Wyndham Poultry I salute you.