Now, once again, before offering up my opinion - I'll state my position on freebies. I positively embrace them! The fact that someone values my opinion on a product, or thinks my endorsement on this blog may enhance it's visibility in some small way is thrilling to me. But.....just because it's free, doesn't mean that If if the product isn't upto scratch that I won't say so. I will. In spades. I owe that to the people who read my Blog. So, to potential freebie senders, you pays your money, and you takes your chances. Can't say fairer than that.
With that said, lets move onto the free Chicken.
It arrived early the other morning, a polystyrene insulated box....surprisingly excited - I pulled off the lid to be greeted by a large organic free range Chicken (Just under 2kg) with giblets. Credit where credit is due, Able and Cole's packaging is excellent. The Chicken was surrounded by frozen gel packs - and I imagine it could have sat happily for hours unattended outside the front door.
But how to cook it?
In the end, I decided to roast it using a recipe from The Eagle's 'Big flavours and Rough edges'. Simply cooked with tarragon, Lemon, black olives and garlic in the manner of South West France.
At the end of the allotted cooking time, the chicken was well cooked, glistening and roasted a deep brown. It smelt lovely.
After resting, onto the carving. (Which I'm rubbish at - sadly being more hacker than surgeon). The chicken was beautifully moist.
I served it up with roast potatoes and Samphire pan fried with shallot and finished with a squeeze of Lemon. Incredibly, considering I live near the sea. (errr....the Thames Estuary, but close enough), It's the first time I've ever cooked Samphire, and I was really impressed. Excellent stuff.
I served all this with a gravy made from the provided giblets.
All in All, a fantastic roast dinner. Pretty good going for a Monday evening.
After letting that lot go down, I proceeded to carve the rest of the meat off the chicken for dinner the following night (More about that in a minute), and threw what was left of the sorry looking carcass into a large pot with chopped vegetables and herbs (Onions, Carrots, Celery, Thyme etc) and proceeded to boil it up to make Stock. There's something very satisfying about getting the absolute maximum out of your ingredients, and I can't recommend making stock from the leftovers enough. It's easy, takes hardly any effort and you'll be rewarded with pints of beautiful stock which freezes for up to 3 months. Just the thing for risotto or soup....Oh, before I forget, big thanks to Oliver Tring and The Ordinary Chefs suggestions via Twitter of putting the stock in my oven to simmer overnight. Saved me a late night there guys, many thanks.
The next night I decided to use my leftover cuts of roast chicken, in a baguette (Brought back from Paris and frozen....I bemoan the fact we can't easily get similiar fantastic bread in the UK - it's available all over the place in France!) with allioli (Garlic Mayonnaise for those not familiar), and boiled new potatoes with Tarragon and olive oil. Simple stuff, but really very tasty.
So, One Chicken - Two nights Dinners for two people, and a load of stock.
The verdict on the Chicken? Well - I was quite impressed, it tasted great and cooked well, was extremely moist and tender. There's no doubt in my mind that you can tell the difference between a Free Range Organic Bird and your run of the mill supermarket job. That is my considered opinion.
But, in the interest of fairness, I'll give you the opinion of my co-diner (The Girlfriend) which was rather less enthusiastic, stating that she couldn't tell the difference between this chicken and it's brethren with somewhat less in the way of organic free range credentials.
So there you have it. Opinions, everyone's got one.
The price for a bird which weighed in at just under 2kg was £12.81 which isn't actually that bad for a Chicken of this quality....(unless of course your my Girlfriend, who it seems is just as happy gnawing on a two for a fiver Tesco jobby).
Abel & Cole Organic Free Range Chicken