Story of a Chicken
Since I’ve been here in Costa Rica, I’ve become more aware of the whole farm to plate thing as it pertains to animals. Since my Dad was an avid weekend farmer, fresh vegetables coming from the garden right into the pot was nothing new to me… but we never had animals on our family farm. Actually, it was a weekend home on a big piece of land at the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, where we had a large vegetable garden, producing enough for our family and many close and distant relatives.
In Costa Rica however, I’ve gotten up close and personal with some farm animals, including the very first horse in 65 years willing to give me a ride.
In addition to the horses and many cattle on the Finca (farm), there are also chickens. On my last trip here, a few days after my notorious horse ride, the family who runs the Finca came for dinner and brought a chicken, dressed and ready for the oven. I soon realized it was one of the "girls" I'd met a few days before.
It almost looked like a small turkey and was more than enough for the ten of us for dinner.
On this trip, we got an organic chicken at the Feria or Sunday Market. Again, it was enormous compared to the chickens we are used to in the states. Yet, contrary to what I thought, these overgrown birds are incredibly tender and delicious.
Because of their size, we usually break the chicken down into boneless breasts, and thigh and leg quarters. The remaining bones, fat, wings, and feet... yes feet!... all go into the pot to make a rich chicken stock.
With the last chicken, one of the breasts ended up in Arroz Con Pollo, made by Ariana, our dear Costa Rican friend. Five of us enjoyed that delicious traditional lunch of rice, vegetables, and chicken.
I sliced the other breast into scaloppini and sautéed it with onions, tomatoes, herbs, white wine and some of the chicken stock. Along with a salad, that provided dinner for the two of us, plus some leftovers!
The thigh and leg quarters found themselves marinating in extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and herbs before getting seared in olive oil in a cast iron pan. After the skin was golden, into the oven it all went with a bit of wine in the pan for extra juice! Again, we had enough left for a lunch of cold roast chicken the next day.
Then there was the stock! We added the meat left on the bones, leftover vegetables and rice to make a hearty supper. The remaining soup went into the freezer for a quick go-to meal next time.
I hope this chicken knows how much we appreciated her giving her life for the cause. She did not die in vain.