Sunday, April 14, 2013

1st Spring Chicken Poppers

There are several things throughout the seasons that I really look forward to. The first batch of Pasta Fresca, a creamy bow tie pasta with fresh tomato, basil, and garlic sauce, topped off with chunks of mozzarella. Pair this with cold white grape juice or a Vouvray, and it is the very picture of a midsummer meal. The first cold front blowing through, at or around, September 14th every year is another one of those seminal moments that remind you what the heat of summer is really for - to prepare you for fall. I think one would not appreciate the fall so much without a blazing August. The first snow fall or the first morning when a wood fire is absolutely necessary but you didn't realize it until you get up that morning- and the feeling once the fire really gets going as you sit in front of it thinking "yes. this is it."

In the spring, for me, it is the first shoots of asparagus, for sure, but even more than that, it is my first batch of Chicken Poppers. This is a delicacy little known to anyone. I think it is an old family recipe from my Grandma Hutchins, an austere, frugal woman, who never wasted anything, and who also always filled me with fear when we visited.

We had a hen get broody 3 weeks ago. She refused to leave her nesting box like the other chickens, so we set her aside in her own maternity-ward/range shelter, placed a dozen fertile eggs beneath her, kept her stocked with food and water, and 21 days later 8 baby chickens hatched.

Patt wanted to raise them up to eventually put in our freezer or to replace some of our older hens eventually but I convinced her to let me try something a little different. Chicken Poppers. I share the recipe with you now. I hope you enjoy!

This recipe is really simple and can be easily scaled to the amount of chicken one has. There is no prep work for the chicken at all as it is cooked whole.The best taste comes from fresh chicken off the farm, but you can source the bulk of the ingredients from a local Tractor Supply or local Co-Op/Feed Store.

In a large cast iron dutch oven bring 6 cups of oil to a boil.
 Dredge the chicken in egg yolk mixed with milk and flour to create a simple batter. You may salt and pepper it to taste if you like, or even add some cajun seasoning.

Much like lobster or crawfish, the best flavor is acheived by gently placing the chicks into the hot oil while they are still alive. Don't worry, at one or two days old, they do not feel anything.

Remove the one or two day old chicks from under the mother hen and drop them into the oil. Deep fry for about 3 minutes or until the chicken begins to float to the surface. Remove with a slotted metal spoon and place on a stack of paper towels to drain.

The outside (feathers and skin) of the baby chicks will become very crispy while the insides stay nice and moist and cooked through. When cooled, place the Chicken Poppers on their backs, on a decorative plate with feet sticking up. These provide "handles" eliminating the need for toothpicks, etc. Simply pick one up by the feet and pop it into your mouth like a lolly-pop, close your lips around the Popper and pull. The handles pull free and you are in Chicken Popper heaven.

We have always found that these Hors d'oeuvre are the topic of intense conversation at parties where we have served them. So people must really like them. I know we do. We need to have another one of those parties again, it has been such a long time. So I hope you enjoy the recipe...

(This article is rife with satire and should not be considered the truth at all. That's kind of what satire does. If you are of that unfortunate group that can not mentally process satire, I apologize and probably should have made this disclaimer at the beginning of the article.- the author)

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