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Locally Yours: Pastured poultry tastes like more than chicken

By: Carol Arnold
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Why, when asked what something tastes like, is the answer always “it tastes just like chicken?” It doesn’t matter whether the protein in question is alligator or rattlesnake, it tastes like chicken. Do you know what I think? I think everything tastes like chicken because chicken doesn’t taste like anything. Chicken used to have flavor. I remember a barbecue when Ed and I lived in Foresthill. Arnie and Maud brought chicken from their own small coop for the grill and it was the best, most flavorful I had ever eaten. I haven’t had chicken that good since. Processed factory chicken is no longer raised the same way chicken used to be. Enough said about that. I find myself not eating the stuff from the store anymore. No flavor and almost impossible to tenderize, I get frustrated over and over again when I try to cook it. Add in the hormones and salt solution and there seems no good reason to eat factory produced chicken anymore. But there is hope out there in chicken land. Bryan Kaminsky from Natural Trading Company is bringing pastured chicken to the market. With the memory of the Arnie and Maud chicken still lingering, I could only hope the chickens from NTC were as good. They are! Broad breasted and full of flavor, they don’t need much help in the way of sauce or spice. Slathered with olive oil, salt and pepper, the chicken will roast to perfection. Although I don’t have to do anything to the chicken to impart tenderness or flavor, I found the Argentinian method of preparation enhanced the inherent qualities. I read that once you start roasting chicken the Argentinian way, you won’t use any other method. I have to agree. Once you get the hang of preparing the chicken “leaping frog” style, instead of butterflied, you won’t go back. Don’t be afraid to try cutting the chicken in this style. It might seem complicated but four cuts and a smash with your hands is all it takes. This recipe takes a total of 15minutes to prepare, 8 hours to marinate, and then 45-50 minutes on the grill. It doesn’t get any easier and with the summer heat finally arriving, cooking great food outdoors is just the right option for me. __________ Argentinian Leaping Frog Chicken 1 chicken (about 3 ½ to 4 pounds) 8 garlic cloves, smashed 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided use 3 tablespoons hot smoked paprika 1 tablespoon dried oregano 1 tablespoon ground cumin 1 tablespoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper ¼ teaspoon ground allspice 1 lime, cut into 4 rounds (lemon may be substituted) To cut the chicken: Discard any visible fat from the chicken. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Place chicken, breast up, on a cutting board. Pull 1 leg away from body and with a sharp knife cut through skin between leg and breast until you hit the joint. (do not cut through the joint) With your fingers behind joint, bend leg back until the joint pops. Repeat with other leg. With kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut through rib bones (starting from thigh) on both sides of breast up to, but not through shoulder joints. Open chicken, skin side up. Press on breastbone to crack and flatten with heel of your hand. Marinate the chicken: Puree garlic with three tablespoons of oil, paprika, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, and allspice in a blender or food processor until smooth. This mixture is the marinade paste. Then stir together 1 tablespoon of the marinade paste and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl, and reserve, chilled, for basting. Put chicken on a sheet pan with sides. Using lime slices as spreaders, rub some of the marinade paste all over the chicken, then stuff the slices with remaining paste under the skin of the breasts and thighs. Marinate, chilled, at least 8 hours, no longer than 12 hours. Grill the chickens: Oil grill rack, then grill chickens directly over coals, turning once (more if flare-ups occur), until browned, about 5 minutes total. Move chickens to area of grill with no coals underneath (for gas turn off 2 burners if necessary and then turn the remaining burner on high) and grill, covered, turning occasionally and basting with reserved marinade mixture, until chickens are cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes. Do not baste during the last five minutes; discard any leftover basting sauce. Add more charcoal as necessary Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into serving pieces. Note: The chicken can be roasted in a sheet pan in a 500 degree oven for about 45 minutes.