I am guessing that most of you are done with poultry for a while. I know my family is (we managed to devour the 14# turkey that Donnie & Denise www.thepinehurstinn.com gave us on Thanksgiving). Although I made a lot of great turkey dishes, and we are now down to one huge pot of soup, I don't think I can get away with tossing a chicken on the dinner table for some time now.
This is hard for me because chicken has got to be my favorite. For Titus it is beef, Laurel pork, and luckily Matt doesn't seem to care.
I was talking with my friend Katie yesterday and as usual, the topic of food came up. Katie and I have a very similar background. She studied agriculture at Oregon State, I studied at Cal Poly. We met about 10 years ago while I was working for the ag research station in Medford. Katie worked with pears (one of Medfords hot commodities, oh wait, I take that back it is now subdivisions on prime agricultural land) and I worked with the hay guys. Actually, I was hired to work on a project that I had to swear to secrecy and not talk about. But, I still got to drive those great combines, run the baler, buck hay,weigh alfalfa from different trial plots, move irrigation pipe and a ton of other fun in the hot summer sun things. Katie got to perform great experiments on pears and spend time in the giant walk-in cooler as well as out in the field. Yesterdays conversation lead us to the Food Inc. movie and soon we were talking about chicken. First our fears of chicken then to how we like to eat it. Despite it all, we both throw down (locally grown Oregon) conventionally raised chickens on the kitchen table. We decided the best and easiest way is to do rosemary-lemon chicken with a whole bird. This reminded me of the last rosemary chicken dinner I made. It turned our rather tasty.
Bake chicken pieces with sliced lemon and fresh rosemary (mine was recently frozen under 1' of snow but it still had flavor). While that was cooking I made our favorite "spaghetti rice" dish:
Saute up about 1/2 serving of broken up (1" longish) regular spaghetti noodles in (a lot of) butter and olive oil in a large skillet that has a lid. Get the noodles nice and brown. Add diced onion, garlic, salt & pepper. Add 2 cups white or brown rice,( I often mix the two) diced veggies like carrots, broccoli, squash, etc...what ever you have that needs to get used up. Put in about 4 1/2 cups liquid. I use water and chicken broth if I have any. Cover, turn heat to low and cook just like you'd cook regular rice. When the chicken is done, toss the cooked lemon & rosemary into the rice mixture and let it absord the flavors for a few minutes. Sure the lemon & herb has absorbed some of the chicken fat but that is what makes the rice so delicious! It's winter, go for it. I served this with a green salad and once again I had a simple, inexpensive meal that the family loved.
OK, farm memory here. Often we raised our own chickens on the farm. One afternoon when I had a beautiful home-grown frier on the kitchen counter, Titus came up to me with his thoughts. He was about 5 years old at the time. Now for those of you who don't know Titus, he had a terrible speech delay and it was often hard to decode exactly what he was trying to get across to us. He finally showed me what he wanted by pulling a lemon out of the fridge and dragging me out to the herb patch where he pulled up my favorite rosemary plant, dragged me back to the kitchen and proceeded to stuff the chicken with the lemon and 1/2 of a very large rosemary plant. Thus our family love for rosemary chicken began. Titus has always been my foodo kid. Even as a youngster he was adventurous when it came to food. It has always amazed other people what and how much that guy could eat. It has served him well because he is planning on going to a Culinary Arts School after graduation. I asked him if I could go with him, he said NO! Oh well. My heart is in agriculture and I suppose always will be. Someday, maybe with my friend Katie, I will venture back into the ag world. I have a few ideas with food & farms and teaching people how to be self sufficient that I'd like to put into practice some day.