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Fort on Chicken
We used to be in thrall to the French when it comes to high-end chicken. Poulet de Bresse and Poulet de Landes, those were the birds, which traditionally have set the tone for the serious chef. These are blacked legged beasties, long-legged with narrow breasts, closer to the jungle chicken from which all chooks are descended.
But in the last few years we have seen the rise of serious homegrown chicken producers. There are the Goosnargh chickens of Reg Johnson in Lancashire, Laverstoke Park in Hampshire, Madgett’s just outside Chepstow and the more universally available Label Rouge. These pioneers have taken the more traditional, muscular-thighed, bountiful-breasted British bird, and bred fully flavoured fowls through careful husbandry, meticulous feeding, natural growth, maturity at slaughter, careful hanging and dry plucking.
There are of course, an infinite variety of chickens, most of which are now raised for showing, but once we prized for the flavour such as Sussex or Rhode Island Red or for their egg laying capacity, such as Orpington and Leghorn, but it takes a dedicated gastro-sleuth to track birds of precise provenance down.
Article written by Matthew Fort
What Chicken Goes With
Chicken is one of the more versatile meats and perhaps this explains its unrelenting popularity. Traditionally, the bird is roasted and served with a variety of vegetables and roast potatoes. Chris Horridge's roast chicken recipe, however, is slightly more forward-thinking, serving succulent roast chicken with a potato purée and pine nuts, while Geoffrey Smeddle's recipe calls for roast chicken to be served with a cider sauce.
The mild flavour of chicken is often well supported by stronger, piquant flavours, which may explain while chicken tikka is now a staple dish. Simon Hulstone plays on this combination to create a glorious curried chicken Kiev.
Chicken is wonderful in salads, as demonstrated by Tom Aikens' classic Coronation chicken salad, with pasta or rice. Still not sure what to do with chicken? Use your imagination, with this bird you can't go far wrong.