I became a vegetarian at the ripe old age of eight. Or should I say I became an ethical vegetarian then because, though my mother was very understanding, trying to provide a meat and meatless meal each night for her family was a bit much. And an eight year old who can get that eating meat means killing animals can also get that it’s unfair to make your mother cook two meals every night. So we settled on that Mum would cook vego a couple of nights a week, that I would eat meals with mince beef and chicken breasts, and that on other nights I would have an omellete. I could handle the mince OK, I mean it’s so ground up it doesn’t really seem like meat, but the chicken breasts, oh the chicken breasts. I forced them down week after week, year after year. I smothered the chicken breast in sour cream, various sauces, mashed potato, whatever I could find and I gulped and gulped.
Now, many years later, I am no longer a practising or ethical vegetarian. I have reconciled within myself that eating meat means killing animals. Now I focus much more on eating meat where the animals had a good life and where hopefully their death was not too painful or prolonged. But I have not been able to bring myself to eat chicken, even free range organic chicken. The thought of it takes me back to my childhood and my voluntarily force eating of it.
Then in early January I was thinking where I wanted to go food wise in 2012. As you already know we don’t have access to as big a vegie garden this year so my thoughts drifted towards meat. At the moment we eat mainly beef, fish and a bit of cured pork (like bacon, prosciutto). I thought about how, one day, I plan to have chickens for eggs. But if you have chickens for eggs, what do you do with the extra chickens? I decided that I wanted to get over my “urgh” with eating chicken so that once we kept chickens I’d be able to eat them as well as their eggs.
Enter my size 19 free range organic chicken. Purchased at my local farmer’s market. It was a whopper, all the small sizes had been bought by people who were in the know: go to the chicken farmer first not last. So I had an almost 2 kg bird and only two people to eat it. I was going to overcome my chicken urghness with a bang.
The first night we had a roast, with the works. We ate the drumsticks and wings. I didn’t dry reach. The chicken fat roasted potatoes were lovely. The chicken, well even a free range organic chicken is pretty tasteless. I don’t think I’m what you’d call a convert.
(Sorry, no pictures of the roast I was too concerned with the fact that I was actually eating chicken and not finding it too bad)
The second night I wanted to try something else so I striped the carcass and made a pie and man what a pie it was. Mr Bee proclaimed it the “best chicken pie ever”. If I eat chicken in future it’s going in a pie. I have included the recipe at the end of this post.
And then, because I am an ethical meat-eater and I didn’t want to waste any of the bird, I made stock. It’s now sitting in my freezer waiting for winter and some yummy soups.
So overall, the chicken, I’d call it a success. I decided that while I can eat chicken, I don’t think I’ll ever chose to eat chicken. But once we have chickens at home I’ll be able to eat them as well as their eggs.
- Dash of olive oil and small knob of butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 celery sticks, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- left over cooked chicken, cut into edible size chunks
- 60 g plain flour
- 80 mL white wine
- 125 mL cream
- 250 mL water
- Dash of oyster sauce
- ½ tsp dried sage
- Your favorite savory short crust pastry, rolled out to fit the base of a pie dish and also as a lid for your pie
- 1 egg yolk
- Preheat oven to 180 °C (360 F)
- Add oil and butter to a fry pan and sauté onion until soft
- Add carrot, celery and garlic and sauté for a few minute
- Coat chicken in flour (I find this is the easiest way to add the flour and not have it go lumpy) and add to vegetables, sauté for a minute or two.
- Add wine and let it simmer until reduced by approximately half
- Add cream, water, oyster sauce and sage, simmer for approximately 5 minutes
- Turn off heat and let cool a bit while you prepare pastry in pie dish
- Add filling (it will pile high). Wash edges of pastry with egg and place pastry lid on top. Crimp pastry edges with a fork to join top and bottom pieces. Brush top of pie with egg. Use fork to place some air holes in the pastry top
- Bake in oven for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden