Friday 17 July 2009

More Free Abel & Cole - Chicken

So, Abel & Cole sent me a free organic chicken to review following up from the Organic vegetable box I was sent a few weeks back.

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


The Ample Cook said...

Your two dishes looked superb Dan - you certainly made the most out of your chicken. I have to say, organic I'm not so worried about, but it has to be free range for me.

Food Urchin said...

I've got a pot of chicken stock on the go as I write this which makes me feel quite proud of myself, like I'm really making the most of the bird.

Chicken and samphire sounds like a winning combination to me, good work fella.

Anonymous said...

This is making me really, really hungry! I think it's always worth paying more for a proper "happy" chicken. Looks like you totally made the best use of this one!

Unknown said...

Roast chicken is such a great meal as it just keeps on giving in terms of leftovers and stock. I often use roast chicken leftovers in a chicken risotto which you can then also use some of your freshly made stock up with - fantastic.

Dan said...

Thanks Jan - interesting I think that my GF didn't think the organic free range was discernibly different from a run of the mill bird.

Dan - Thanks. Fantastic. You have to make stock....the only way you can get more out of the chickem is making jewellery from the bones and perhaps some kind of chicken skin skullcap hat type affair.

Gastrogeek - Thanks - yep the chicken certainly got well used :)

Gourmet Chick - Chicken Rissoto - wish I'd thought of that...the stock is earmarked, but never considered the actual leftovers as well.

Niamh said...

Ah! Homemade chicken stock. Sweeet! It makes such a difference. How long did you simmer it in the oven for and at what temp? Great idea!

Dan said...

Niamh, I started off making it as per normal on the gas rings, so bring to the boil and skim impurities etc but left starting it so late that by the time it would have finished simmering it would have been 3am. So, as suggested by both Oliver and Mike on Twitter - I set the oven to 110C, and put the stock in with a lid, letting it simmer for 4-5 hours or so. (My oven has a timer to switch itself off, so I set that) - but Oliver reckons you can leave it quite happily overnight in the oven, just make sure to take it out (and switch it off!) in the morning.

Kavey said...

We were also sent a chicken for review by A&C - I blogged it a few weeks back. Absolutely delicious, we really enjoyed it.

For me I would say it definitely beats your two for a fiver jobbies hands down. The texture and flavour of the meat is far superior.

For me, the problem is that I can get similarly tasty chickens from Waitrose for slightly lower prices. Mind you they never seem to sell them with giblets. Then again they are a lot cheaper for very similar quality.

But for anyone wanting organic chicken, delivered, I have absolutely no hesitation suggesting A&C as our chicken (and stock and leftovre) was marvellous.

Alex said...

It's so satisfying to get so many meals out of one bird. We usually get three meat dishes and three risotto or soup suppers from the stock. I always feel so smug when I've got homemade stock in the fridge!

Also, I have tagged you with a Kreativ Blogger award on my blog...

Dan said...

Kavey - interesting, I'll have to check out the Waitrose birds.

Alex - which three meat dishes do you normally get? - you obviously get the absolute max out of it. As for the award, I'm honoured - thanks a lot!

Alex said...

You're welcome Dan - the logo's a bit girly but you can rock it!
And re chicken, it does depend on the size but the ones I get from my Mum's country butchers are huge so we use breast for stirfries or wherever needs breast... Legs go into a stew or are roasted, then drumsticks and wings with a glaze for lunch! Mr F does all the boning out and butchering though...