Play with your food! Poultry, oven roasted.
My father and his family immigrated to the US from the Azores sometime in the late 60’s. My mother moved to Los Angeles from Marietta, Georgia around the same time.
Announced or unannounced, when you visited my father’s family there were home made breads in the pantry, cakes in tins, cookies in jars, soups on the stove. The women could make anything in no time at all. My mother’s side filled their cupboards with Pop Tarts, Ritz Crackers, and cheese that came from cans. They bought soda by the case and had a glass of sweet tea always within reach. Old world values and mid century convience. Neither had much money, but how they spent was evident on the table.
My father’s family came together twice a year up north in Chino where they would purchase a cow and some hogs, slaughter them, dress and divide the meat. At home each family kept at least a chicken coop. My cousin Inez and her husband had rabbits, turkeys, all kinds of fowl and other critters in pens in their back yard with tomato or grape vines creeping up the sides, kale or other plants between. So, unlike my cousins on my mother’s side I saw possibilities for the table.
My father cooked with wine, garlic, parsley, cracked all-spice or grains of paradise. My mother used Crisco.
Cooking for me is choosing from among possibilities a path to communicate my affection. Cooking is the love which made time for cupboards filled with homemade reminders from home.
With that backstory in mind consider the thought, experience, and creativity I put into this Valentine’s Day dinner and what I mean to say through doing.
The skills used include:
- Deboning — cooks faster, provides base for stock and sauce
- Forcemeat — making sausage from the leg meat
- Stuffing the breast — details follow
- Stuffing the cavity– to tie the whole together
- Reassembling — for an impressive presentation
Here I’ve deboned a guinafowl which allows me to cook the bird very quickly — in 20 – 30 minutes. With the bones I make stock. (insert link) Next I remove the breast meat whole, divide it into two and slice it almost all the way through keeping it attached at the base. In the spaces between I add slices of foie gras. (Escofficer and Careme would have also added truffle. In fact, you can layer many things between the bits of flesh, so long as they impart flavor, moisture, or fat — those recipes are forthcoming.)
Next, remove the leg meat and carefully take out all the sinews. Weigh the meat, place it the blender and add up to the same weight in cream, cream fraise, sour cream, marscpone, foie gras, or bacon. Season it well with tarragon, thyme, salt. Place the mixture into a pastry bag and pipe it into the legs as sausage.
Place the stuffed breasts back into the cavity face up and pack in the rice stuffing (link will go here) and either sew the back together and truss the bird, or lay it flat as I’ve done here (also called Butterflying the chicken). Dot with butter or olive oil, grind salt and pepper, sprinkle a liberal amount of fresh thyme, and layer slices of lemon.
Bake it in a very hot 250 degree celcius oven for 15 to no more than 30 minutes, depending on the size of your bird. The breasts and legs cook quickly. The only bones are in the wing tips, so you really just want to cook the meat and crisp the skin. Cut, plate, sauce. (link will go here)
The foie gras will melt into and through the stuffing and pool with the sauce on the plate. As you eat you will have four distinct meals: The sausage, the stuffing, the breast, the wing.
tier one (you must use)
Poultry such as chicken, squab, duck, cornish hens
Foie gras (or thick slices of mushroom, truffle, bacon, confit) enough to fill the layers
Fresh thyme, rosemary
1 lemon, thinly sliced
third tier (optional)
Slice fried shallots or caramelized onions (to place in the cavity before placing the stuffed breast back into the cavity)
Recipe for forcemeat (use up to equal part cream to meat, but no egg)
Recipe for rice stuffing (coming)
Recipe for stock (coming)
Debone the bird reserving the bones for stock. Remove the leg meat, make the forcemeat with up to an equal amount of cream to meat. Refrigerate it. Slice the breasts almost all the way though and place thick slices of foie gras between the layers. Season the inside of the bird with thyme, pepper, onions or shallots (not salt). Place the breasts in foie gras side facing the skin. Fill the leg skin with the forcemeat. Place the stuffing in the bird. Sew in shut, truss, and arrange on the baking sheet, or place a sheet of wax paper on the open side of the bird, place the pan over the wax paper and flip the bird into the pan. Keep the bird in the refrigerator.
30 minutes before serving preheat your oven to 250 degrees Celsius and begin preparing the sauce. Rub butter all over the skin and sprinkle rosemary, thyme, and salt. Place the slices of on and around the bird. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the lemon slice and broil to crisp the skin. When it’s finished let it rest on the counter for 10 minutes while you finish the sauce.
Cut the bird, plate it, pour the sauce and serve. It goes very well with wedges of bread to mop up the sauce.