One of the French traditions that I am loving the most right now is the Sunday Roast Chicken. (Don’t even think of stealing the name for your bowling team. I got dibs.) Sacrosanct, like scarves or complaining about your landlord, there is nothing finer than sitting around the table on a day of rest, enjoying fresh, uncomplicated food with your people. Based on my recent experiences making this traditional meal, I have prepared a step-by-step guide so that you can do this at home. Here it is:
Step 1- Get a chicken. Why settle for a supermarket chicken? My favorite is to go to our open air market and select one from the many butcher stands there. On Saturday, my favorite butchers had a nice, plump 2.5 kilogram chicken, complete with information about the farm it was raised on. Even without a detailed description of how this bird spent its days, I could tell from the meaty legs that it got a lot of exercise playing games like, “Chicken rugby” or “Holy crap, here comes the dog, run for your lives!” With a bird in the hand, I returned to our house to cook it.
Step 2- Prepare the bird. Some people are overly fussy about their pre-roasting routine, brining, marinating, and/or seasoning under the chicken’s skin. Here, the meat is so wonderfully chicken-y that I just rub a lot of salt and pepper on the outside. This last time, I got ready to do so and discovered this:
So, yes. I guess on prior trips to the market the butchers took pity on meand removed the head (and feet!) themselves. Perhaps I have begun to fit in a little around here, and this one made it home looking a little less “Marie Antoinette” than I would have hoped. I briefly procrastinated by removing the internal organs before gearing up for the final task. If this happens to you, don’t worry. You have the skills to do this.
Step 3- Cut the head off the chicken. It’s simple really. Even so, when it happened to me, I stared into the dead chicken’s eye for a few minutes and, unable to proceed, I decided to take a quick detour from the task at hand.
Step 4- Open a bottle of wine. Sure, you probably going to drink some with the Sunday Roast Chicken, anyways, but I needed some wine to just get to the point where I could get the stupid thing in the oven. I drank the wine (more like a shot than I would care to admit,) and even forced some down the chicken’s throat. None of the involved parties should be sober when cutting off a chicken’s head.
Step 5- Do it. With my newly found liquid courage, I commenced the beheading. I split the job into 2 steps, since I wanted to keep the neck for use in making chicken stock. First, I severed the head at the top of the neck. It went through surprisingly easily. Then, I rolled back the skin of the neck near the chicken’s body and found a place to hack through with a knife. When I was done, the trachea fell out of the neck, as did the contents of my lunch shortly thereafter.
Step 6- Gross your kids out. Having a newly severed chicken head is a wonderful way to get back at your kids for getting on your nerves. Don’t miss the opportunity.
Step 7- Roast the chicken. I heated up the oven to 190 degrees and then rested the bird on top of a layer of potatoes.
I really wanted to make this post about the simple, wonderful tradition of a family meal together. But seriously. I had a chicken head! What was I supposed to do, pretend it wasn’t there? Not me. You all know how to roast a chicken, it’s not rocket science. What you probably don’t know is what to do with a chicken head and some free time. I got you covered. Without further ado, here is how the chicken head and I spent the rest of the day.