The cat’s bollocks and other tales…..

chicken_roast_0016

The woolly hat pulled down around my ears efficiently protected them from the chill of the biting wind but failed miserably in filtering out the piercing cries of an enraged cat in a cage being carted off for castration. Molly, the cat in question, might appear to be an unlikely candidate for castration which only goes to confirm the foolhardiness of judging anything by appearances, names or, indeed, covers. When he was a tiny kitten, some 6 months ago, we had pored over diagrams of cats’ genitals whilst holding him up by his tail in order to make a clear decision as to his Molly or Manliness. The diagrams were simple and seemingly foolproof. A male was designated by two black dots, one above each other, in the form of a colon whilst the female was symbolised by an inverted exclamation mark. Following this foolproof system we, clearly far beyond fooldom, named him Molly. At the moment of writing, Molly, should be groggily awakening from a drug induced slumber filled with dreams of pussies which is where they will remain henceforth. I on the other hand, desperately clinging onto the equivocal mantra of things hurting me far more than they’re hurting you, came home and cooked Cock Robin: fooled again by the punctuation, Robin is no cock.

Exhausted from innuendo, all that remains is to tell you how good is a simple roast chicken. “Roast Chicken and other stories” by Simon Hopkinson has a place on my shelf of most used cook books. His view that a good cook will produce a good dish from even the scrawniest chicken whilst a bad cook will produce a bad dish, even if using a chicken from Bresse, is one to which I subscribe. The chicken in the picture is a Label Rouge chicken, not from a smart poulterer, but from our local Lidls. To prepare it I carefully slid wedges of butter under the skin of the breast and filled the cavity of the bird with a quartered onion and a bunch of snow covered sage branches from the garden.chicken_roast_0006 Once trussed, I poured some olive oil over the breast and thighs and liberally sprinkled the bird with sea salt and ground black pepper and placed the bird on a rack which sits in roasting tray, in which I poured a couple of glasses of water. The bird goes into a pre heated oven at 21oC  which is turned down to 190C after 20 minutes. A further 40 – 45 minutes of cooking, with occasional basting, will produce a well cooked bird. I also take the time to place pieces of cooking foil over areas that I feel are browned enough. The cooked chicken should be left to rest for a good 30 minutes which gives one the time to reduce the delicious juices in the pan. This with a green salad, some good bread and glass of wine is the dog’s …….which reminds me, I must go and pick up Molly.

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About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2015, Chicken, Chicken, Cookery Writers, Cooking, Cuisine bourgeoise, Digital photography, Dreams, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Herbs and Spices, Humour, Olive oil, Photography, photography course, Poultry, Recipes, Roast Chicken, sage, sea salt, Sex, Simon Hopkinson, Uncategorized, Wine, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to The cat’s bollocks and other tales…..

  1. Mad Dog says:

    I agree with you and Simon Hopkins – good roast chicken comes from aromatising it, as it cooks. I hope you’ll feed Molly some leftovers – perhaps you could play him A Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash 😉

  2. Sally says:

    You try doing the same thing with baby hamster genital identification. You’ve just brought back nightmarish memories – I think we bred 48 of the damn things due to one slip up with a printed out images from the internet! Slice of that golden bird please and I’ll have the crispy skin. Delicious.

  3. cecilia says:

    I hope Molly gets to keep his name.. otherwise he really will have an identity crisis.. Now i am going into the depths of my freezer to pull out a chicken.. I like the idea of putting butter under the skin..’more butter, more bette’ I say – YUM. c

  4. Misky says:

    Just as I do with chicken, although my newest twist on tradition is to plug the cavity with the contents of 1/2 tin white beans (any sort – drained and rinsed), plus a half lemon as the final plug so the bean don’t escape. It’s very tasty – the beans absorb chicken fat and some of the juices. >

  5. I have that whole series of Hopkinson’s books, as well. Love that it’s ingredient-focused simple cooking (the kind I prefer!) but, as you said, he’s not a food snob.

  6. Roger,

    Simon Hopkinson is the best person to listen to about cooking chickens, with the notable exception of my wife Suzanne. Tonight she is cooking a label rouge chicken with comté added late in the process. This is one of my favourite dishes, and I am extremely grateful for it and the timeliness of your post.

    If you are roasting the chicken whole, I find it useful to slash the thighs a couple of times to even up the cooking process. Gone are overcooked legs and undercooked breasts.

    Perhaps you cat could have a name change to Molière? This was a notable person, one whose name would not disgrace a cat, and would suit the now apparent gender of the cat.

    Of course, cats have their own names for themselves, a

  7. and unfortunately never let us humans know what their name really is.

  8. Angeline M says:

    Roasted chicken is nothing but deliciousness. I did just this last week with a half lemon and a head of garlic in the cavity. I was a bit surprised that I got none of the flavor of the garlic that I was so hoping for, nor the lemon. Did I do something wrong? I will definitely put some butter under the skin as you mention; this can only add to the flavor of the roasting.
    As for Molly, may he live many years in the sun.

  9. I’m hungry. Hope you left me some. Poor ole Molly…

  10. qutepoly says:

    Nice! I do the butter under the skin too with herbes de Provence and olive oil! Yum.
    BTW thank you for following me.

  11. suej says:

    Ah, Simon Hopkinson and a chicken! The puppy’s privates…..

  12. My niece is named Molly………..sniff.

  13. And now I want a roast chicken for breakfast 😜

  14. platedujour says:

    Roasted chicken is heaven and this one looks so tasty 😀 Roger please next time don’t forget about me!

  15. “we had pored over diagrams of cats’ genitals” – god that made me laugh! Especially as many years ago I too adopted a kitten who (fortunately) I named Cyd (as in Charisse – I was having a bit of a Hollywood film phase). When the reality dawned she became he and Sid was born! I distinctly remember the vet saying to me “how could you not know….those, Tanya, are BALLS!”. Hey ho….and roast chicken makes everything feel better, even having to change from one sex to another 😉

  16. Eha says:

    To Molly: hope your humans spoilt you a bit after that experience . . . To Misky: don’t do a whole chicken often [living alone boo-hoo!] but that beans idea will be copied for certain!! A whole new flavour ‘sensation’ . . . .

  17. Michelle says:

    Poor Molly. I got a kitten while in law school and a med student friend declared it a girl. Not so. We always joke that it was a good thing the friend became a pathologist and then an architect, as obviously his clinical skills were lacking. Great looking hen. At least I’m assuming it was a hen.

  18. Vicki says:

    Yum 😀

    (I also include a lemon cut in half in the cavity of my roast chook).

  19. Poor Molly. I hope he got a piece of chicken.

  20. Wonderful. Must check out that Simon Hopkinson book. My old tom cat Thomas would only come in if you shouted chicken at the back door!

  21. ardysez says:

    Chicken looks perfection. We have an iconic male music personality here in Australia named Molly Meldrum… suggesting Molly will still be a perfectly acceptable name for Mr. kitty. Thanks for the entertainment at 5.30 in the morning!

  22. You’re in good company, Roger, or perhaps I am, as Homer the cat went into heat around six months leading to a suspicion that perhaps she was not a male, after all. She is still Homer, and whether named after the Greek poet or the more recent philosopher, Homer Simpson, will never be revealed. Although I’ve been the butt of several jokes for my inability to sex a cat, luckily deficit this has not extended to humans and I have two lovely children and several grands!

    Funny, but Homer DOES look like a girl, and Gibson is all boy, despite his lack of hanging fruit! http://frugalhausfrau.com/2012/10/03/my-not-so-frugal-addition-to-the-household/

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