Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fall 2008 Chicken CSA Final Newsletter

Hi Chicken CSA folks!

I know this is a bit late but I wanted to send you all off with a final newsletter. Thanks to everyone who made the Fall Chicken CSA a smooth and pleasant experience.

We're looking forward to seeing some of you back in the spring. For those of you who already signed up for the spring - THANK YOU! For those who plan to but haven't signed up: Tomorrow is your last chance to get the $10.00 discount. All membership sign ups, for both chicken and veggies, will receive $10 off if postmarked on or before December 31.


The only thing I wish we could have done was given y'all some bigger chickens on average. Usually the chickens average 3.5 lbs. But we got some early winter temperatures this fall and the chickens expended a lot of energy keeping themselves warm instead of producing meat. I tried to make up for it by giving some people extra chickens and some people extra packs of legs. Next fall what I plan on doing is keeping the birds 9 weeks instead of 8 before slaughter. That way if we get some chilly nights they'll have a bit more time to grow. I'm also building more brooders for spring so we can keep them in the brooders for longer than 2 weeks if necessary. Since we get a new batch of chicks every two weeks, sometimes I'm forced to put them outside even if they're not quite ready. Doubling the brooder space will allow birds to brood up to 4 weeks and warm themselves under the heat lamps if winter decides to come early like it did this fall or stay with us longer in the spring.


We will have frozen chickens available at both Durham and Carrboro Farmers' Markets every Saturday throughout the winter. Carrboro Market is open every Sat. 9am- noon and Durham is open every Sat. 10am-noon. We will be there with coolers full of frozen birds.


I am getting better at this by the week. Fried chicken was our last frontier. Being originally from the North, the only fried chicken Joann and I ate was from KFC, which ruins many people on fried chicken for life. It's like my cousins from Georgia who only ever ate Pizza Hut pizza. So I'm new at this, and haven't perfected it, so you might want to try Google for some other ideas as well. And I've seen some good Youtube videos frying chicken.

So here's what I do:

Use a cast iron pan or a wok. Fried chicken has to be cooked in a pan with good heat distribution. We have a good wok and I find it works well.

Pour oil into the wok (we use canola) - enough that when you put the chicken in it'll be, say, 70% covered with a bit peeking out of the top. Heat the oil up on medium/high. You can tell when it's ready by sticking the end of a wooden spoon in. When bubbles form and move rapidly around the spoon, you know the oil is ready.

Cut up the chicken, soak the pieces in an egg beaten with a little water. Take a gallon size ziplock bag, fill it with bread flour (or all purpose), salt, and any combination of spices you want. I've been using garlic power, cumin and red pepper. I'm not sure yet of the portions I like, but last time I used way too much salt and it ruined the chicken.

Put the chicken in the bag, zip it closed, and shake it around in there so the flour/spice covers the chicken.

Drop the chicken in the pan/wok slowly so the oil doesn't splash everywhere. Cook the chicken on one side for about 5-7 minutes until the crackling dies down a little. Then flip it and cook for about 5 minutes until the crackling dies down again. The outside should be golden brown. Take the chicken out with either tongs or a "spider" - and you can set it in paper towels to soak up the excess oil. If you want to check it with a meat thermometer just in case, the internal temp. should be 165 degrees.


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