The Ginger Pig, butchers and farmers of distinction, offered me (along with a few other bloggers) a free chicken the other week. Not just any chicken mind, but a two kilogram, 100 day old, mother of a chicken (apparently your average commercially bred free-range chicken is slaughtered at around 65 days here in the UK). Their largesse was part of a promotional launch for their very own range of poultry. Here's their description of said bird:
'Reared for The Ginger Pig by Gerald & Richard Botterill on Ling View Farm, Belvoir Estate, Lincolnshire. Bred from a traditional Cornish game cockerel crossed with the Sussex or Dorking hen. Dry-plucked, free-ranging over fresh grass and herbage, fed a cereal diet then hung for one week to bring out the flavour'.
I had absolutely no qualms in accepting, firstly because I'm a mentalist, not an idiot - free fucking chicken! - and secondly, I've championed the Ginger Pig since this blog began. As I wrote in the shopping section: 'This is about as good as it’s possible for a butcher to get. If you’re a meat lover, here’s where you should come to worship'.
Prior to developing their own poultry they had been popping over to France for poulet de Bresse, poulet noir and corn fed Landes chickens to sell in their shops, and it is the flavour of these that they are aiming to equal, if not surpass. The birds - either cockerels or pullets - are retailing at £8.50 per kilogram. This pricing puts them below the cost of a poulet de Bresse in this country and at about the same as what is, I would suggest, their strongest British competitor, Label Anglais.
Unfortunately, if you want to know how the taste compares, I'm really not the chap to ask as it's been years since I've been able to afford a Label Anglais or Bresse chicken - the last bird I bought cost £2.99. What I can say is that having been let loose to shake its booty around the farm for 100 days and then, through no fault of its own, hung for a week, this pullet was extremely tasty.
I would have loved to have simply roasted this chicken (and for great ideas on roasting see the note at the bottom of this post), but being on my lonesome that wasn't very practical. So firstly I jointed it:
L: Le Massadel (£2.20/100g); C: Taleggio (£1.75/100g);
R: Beenleigh Blue (2.85/100g)
One goat's milk cheese, one cow's and one sheep's; one hard, one soft and one blue; all unpasteurised - this is a great selection, chosen as always by Robbyn Linden of The Cheeseboard.
When people say they don't like goat's cheese I reckon they're recalling the acrid aftertaste at the back of the throat of one of those aged and wrinkly crottins. Le Massadel is nothing like that - it has a lovely, subtle and more-ish taste with a texture reminiscent of a mild cheddar.
We all know Taleggio - soft, melting, unthreatening, ideal as a pizza topping - but probably that's mainly the pasteurised, factory versions available from any supermarket. This one was much superior - complex and distinctive and redolent of the farmyard.
The Beenleigh is a wonderful blue cheese, both creamy and salty (I believe it is based on a Roquefort recipe); the texture reminded me of a Wensleydale. It is my favourite blue of the moment.
The three chunks shown in the photo cost me £6.94.
N.B. Just in case you didn't know, the term 'affineur' (as used by Robbyn in her notes below) is someone who selects, ripens and matures cheeses - Hervé Mons being the most famous exemplar in France, Neal's Yard Dairy here in Britain.
As you may have seen from an earlier post I'm pretty happy with the sourdoughs I've been knocking out of late. But there are times when only a couple of slices of soft, doughy farmhouse will do - most especially for a bacon sandwich. After a few tries with various recipes (and investing in a loaf tin) I've settled, in the last week or so, on the following method.
Using supermarket flour and dried yeast the cost of the loaf was 30p.
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