Our home-grown chicken that I defrosted earlier in the week has been slow-simmered into one of the finest chicken meals I've ever had.
Actually, the slow-simmering in the oven was the fastest part of this long process. The meal actually started on the afternoon that I brought the twenty Cornish Cross chicks home. They were healthy, happy and very cute. From the beginning, they were destined for a short life as they were bought for the purpose of fattening up to be eaten.
They gained weight with enthusiasm -- a single-minded focus on continuous eating has been bred into them. They reach adult weight in eight to nine weeks.
The growing chicks lolled about their pen, sunbathing, munching down grain, snapping at flies and sipping water. Very soon they were full-size and the weather grew hot. It was time.
I helped Bruce load them up into cages for the trip down to the slaughtering facility. I stayed home.
The people who run this facility are from Southeast Asia and are skilled and humane at what they do.
One of the women asked Bruce if he wanted the feet, and when he said, "No," were delighted to take them. Chicken foot soup -- waste not, want not. A good thing.
The chickens came home on ice and we prepared them for freezing. It took several hours to do a final cleaning vacuum seal, weigh and freeze all of them.
Last week I defrosted a 6 1/2 pounder. I found an Alton Brown recipe for Coq au Vin which looked good. It also looked labor-intensive, but since we'd already put quite a bit of labor into producing the chicken that was the star of the show, it seemed very well worth it.
Last night, the chicken was braised and then marinaded overnight in a mixture of red wine (2 bottles!), herbs, vegetables and seasonings. The house smelled heavenly.
This morning the pot went into the oven for 2 1/2 hours. What came out was nothing short of a miracle of deliciousness: falling-off-the-bone chicken -- tender, succulent and fragrant.
Mama came up for lunch and we sat down to a meal to remember. Before we took a bite, we raised our glasses to the chicken that made this possible.