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Silkie Chicken Soup

In today’s Tasting Table email, I was alerted to a book/blog called Lucid Food.  Louisa Shafia is a local NYC chef/caterer/author/blogger trying to change the way we think about and eat food.  Her site is a great resource for people (like myself) looking to make some changes in how we approach food and how we can help others do the same.  Check out her blog whenever you get a chance.

I would also like to direct your attention to one of the best blog posts I have seen in my research on the elusive silkie chicken.  Using a bo bo chicken and some advice from a bo bo “insider,” she has a great step-by-step analysis with photos on how to make the soup stock.  Now I’ve just got to get my hands on another one…

Check it out here.

mmm, silky.

It’s been too long, I know.  Based on all of y’all who end up on my site after searching for “silky (or any variant of spelling) chicken,” I figured it was time at long last to cook the darn thing.

As you will recall, I bought some chickens from bo bo chicken farm, based out of upstate New York.  They are not organic, as mentioned, but raised locally, so that’s still better than nothing.  I roasted that regular young chicken ’till he was GB&D (golden brown and delicious), to steal from Ming Tsai (what’s that guy up to, anyway?).

Now, it was time for his silkier cousin to get cooked up.  There are a lot of choices for chicken, but I knew that black chicken would be a special case.  When I was sold the chicken, they tried to push some baggie of sticks and stuff that was the base for a soup.  Silky chicken tonic soup, they call it (here).  At the time, I wanted to roast the thing, just to see what it tastes like by itself.  But when I pulled the little guy out of the freezer, I didn’t think that was such a great idea.

There were other braising recipes, like one from Patricia Yeo, but again, the ingredient list consisted of too many items that I would have to travel to get and/or require some sort of special translation.  I decided to make something up.  The only thing I knew I wanted to include was star anise.  That was pretty much my only requirement.

So I pulled a few items out of the spice cabinet.

I was making this thing up, so I figured I could use as many ingredients as I wanted.  The basics were: star anise, cinnamon, lemongrass, soy sauce, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, juniper berries, pink peppercorns, red wine, vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, and these wasabi sesame seeds that my stepmom gave to me (re-gift from her bro).  I also had diced carrots and onions.  I wanted it all in there.

I started out by butchering the chicken.  I realized one thing about the silky chicken: not a lot of meat.  As in, REALLY not a lot of meat.  Practically none.  It’s just a mass of grey flesh and grey bones and purple skin.  Maybe the one I got in particular was particularly devoid of breast meat, but there was nothin.  Tiny little breasts and decently sized thighs, although nothing to write home about.  I also couldn’t figure out where everything was, it was all just a little bit different from a normal bird.

Anyway, I probably mutilated the thing, but it’s all good.  This was all in the name of science.

After that, I went about my way with pretty standard braising steps.  Browned the chicken.

Now, if you will notice, when the breast is cooked, it still turns white.  This is because it has less myoglobin, which apparently is what makes meat dark or light when cooked.  More myoglobin= darker when cooked (also means that it was a slow-twitch muscle, like legs, shoulders, etc).  Anyway, this was kind of disappointing, since I wanted the flesh to be grey, even when cooked.  Also, in case you were wondering, the blood is still red, too.  Can you say “disappointment?”

After browning it up, I took the chicken out and sautéed the veg in the fat (there wasn’t much) and then threw all of that stuff into the pot after deglazing with a combination of rice wine vinegar and red wine.  Everybody went into the pool.  Then, I cooked it down for about 45 minutes or so.  That was it!  Roasted some fingerlings on the side, and cooked up some baby bok choi in butter and sesame oil, and Bob’s your uncle!

As you can see, it looks kinda like chicken.  And, sorry to disappoint, but it also tastes… like chicken.  It really didn’t taste much different than the other Bo Bo chicken.  Which isn’t a bad thing, but I was hoping it would taste like, well, something else.  Anyway, enjoy, and try to get one if you can.  Buy local!

Speaking of local, I got some Milk Thistle farm chocolate milk.  Quite tasty.  Ronny has competition.

Also speaking of local again, got some R-brook Vanilla ice cream.  And I put chestnut purée on it.  That was delightlful.  See if you can get some of that stuff, too.  The purée is from France, but I’ll allow it.

Bo Bo Chicken: RIP, Herbert

The day came, when my spoils from the recent New Amsterdam Market would be fully realized.  Tonight, it was time for the Bo Bo young chicken to meet its fate.  Well, I guess it had already met its fate, but it was time to meet a new, tastier fate.  The silky chicken is still in the freezer, waiting to say hello to the oven.  Question, though– how am I going to know if the silky chicken is cooked?  I mean, the meat is black, so what color are the juices?

Anyway, it was time for some roast chicken.  I pulled it out of the chicken, knowing that some preparations would need to be made.  The “buddhist style” chicken come complete with head and feet, as I had already mentioned in a previous post.  Since I don’t have a cleaver, I knew that this could be tough to negotiate.

So I pulled him out of his little plastic cocoon, and he looked me in the eye:


I named him Herbert.  Herbert also left his shoes on when he came from the fridge, so from behind he looked like this:


Then I attacked him with a knife.  It was easier than I expected, but I wrangled his feet off and hacked off his head like a cold-hearted criminal.  It actually wasn’t that bad.  But bone sure is tough to cut through.  As a reward for his patience, I rubbed him down with some frozen pesto that I had made a few months back.  I threw some basil leaves and a few cloves of fresh garlic in his “cavity” (which, as I found out later, had the kidneys wedged in there, which I think actually gave the meat some mineral-y flavor).  I sprinkled some kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper on him, gave him a little glug of olive oil, and popped him into a pre-heated 425 degree oven.

About 30 minutes into the process, he was getting a deep amber tan.  He looked like one of those lovely ladies from the jersey shore.


His little hotbox was browning him nicely.  I was really happy with how the skin was getting nice and crispy, and the fat running out of him was pure and clear.  I felt good about this little chicken, even if he had listened to belle and sebastian during his final hours.  About a half-hour later, he was ready to get out of the tanning bed and into my belly.


BEEEEA-UTIFUL.  Let’s have a moment of silence for Herbert.  He was a simple chicken, and he led a simple life.  He got a simple roasting.  And he was simply delicious.

BG made a little Isreaeli couscous with eggplant and basil to accompany Herbert – they make a lovely pair, don’t you think?


Herbert the Chicken
Courtesy of Bo Bo Chicken
Chez Bugerboy
8.63 out of 7 cows.

A reason to go to the Seaport

Slow Food NYC New Amsterdam Market

As I have mentioned, today marked the day of the New Amsterdam Market down in front of the old Fulton Fish Market.  Thanks for all of you guys who came out at 5.30am to lend your support and see the BB in action.

You basically  missed the best damned setting up of a farmer’s market that you could have imagined.  It was pretty strange being up a) up at 5.30am and b) being at the seaport at that time.  In any event, the set up was great, and when I awoke from my nap afterwards, it all seemed as though it had been a dream.

The market itself was awesome once populated with all of the local vendors who brought their products to sell– a few restaurants showed up, most notably Marlow and Sons/Diner (BK) and porchetta (East Vil).  Most of the other purveyors were cheesemongers, local vineyards, and a chocolate shop from Somerville, MA (shout out for my peeps at Tufts!).  Fairway was a corporate sponsor and they used their space to promote their selection of breads.  Considering this is about all that they actually make that might be organic or locally sourced, it was probably a wise move.

Some highlights for me from the market:

– Brooklyn Brine: Great pickles, I liked them much better than Rick’s Picks, which was also there.  I just can’t get behind RP.  Even their Phat Beets don’t do it for me.

– The Bent Spoon: This is one of my all time favorite ice cream shops in the world, located down in Princeton, NJ.  They always have great locally sourced ingredients (some from the owner’s and owner’s friends’ yards), and a lot of unique flavors.  If you are ever in Princeton and they have sweet basil ice cream, go for it, it’s awesome.  Anyway, they were representin’.
Bent Spoon NA Market

– porchetta: As mentioned, the East Village pork-house was in full effect, and Sara Jenkins was there putting together mini porchetta sandwiches.  My only complaint was that the crackling didn’t really survive the trip, and was a little bit overly gelatinous.  But, it was great to see her there.

– Marlow and Sons/Diner: The laid-back guys from Marlow and Sons were there, serving up mini ham and brisket sandwiches.  I also just want to add that these guys were really cool and chatting with the crowd, which was pretty much in line with what I’d expect.

Brisket Sandwich- Marlow and Sons

– People’s Pops: Since it was a pretty warm day today, these guys were probably raking in the most business, serving up their shaved ice and organic/local fruit pops.  I went for a lemon-basil shaved ice, which was actually made from a giant block of ice (their supplier is located out in bushwick, if you’re ever looking for a giant block of perfectly clear ice).  BG went for a raspberry frozen pop, which looked awesome (and apparently tasted awesome, too).

– Bo Bo chicken: When all is said and done, this is the only place from which I actually bought anything to go.  The story is pretty simple– they raise all of their chickens with access to pasture, at the foothills of the Catskills.  Then they transport these healthy little chickens down to Williamsburg, where they suffer from death by flannel and skinny jeans.  The facility is USDA approved, and the label says “eviscerated” on it, which is pretty intense.  Anyway, they sell chickens, for a relative bargain ($13 bucks).  For the great taste and local sourcing, I’m more than willing to spend this much on chicken.  And, they even throw in the head and feet, just for good measure.  Thanks!

Now, they sell regular chickens and silky chickens.  If you haven’t seen a silky chicken alive, they look like this:800px-silky_bantamApparently, their feathers are soft like silk.  Not only that, but they also have black bones, skin, AND flesh.  Dead and processed by Bo Bo, they look like this:

Silky Chicken

Needless to say, it’s not quite as cute anymore.  I am really curious to see what this tastes like.  For a mere $5 you could buy the spices to make a Silky Chicken Soup, but I want to taste this thing in its naked state.  I am going to roast it at some point in the near future, and I’ll be sure to post when I do.  I can’t even imagine what it looks like in there, it’s going to taste daring, I can just sense it.

All in, it was a great day at the market, and being a part of it was even better.  Hanging out with all of the passionate purveyors is always great, and with any luck, this small segment of the market will become even bigger.  The food is just too good for it not to.  Check it out next month when it comes back to town.  I unfortunately will be in Paris.  Poor me.  Àla prochaine…

And, two more reasons to be happy today:

– I survived running four miles in the Fitness Road Runners race yesterday

– The NFL is back on air, brining gut-wrenching fantasy football anxiety to its zenith.  One weekend almost down, one 31-point stupid decision already made– shoulda kept Philly defense!