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Recipes for free-range chicken

13 March 2008 by

It's perfectly possible to make enough money with simple dishes from one chicken that will justify buying a better-quality bird. I get Cobb chickens from Woolley Park Farm in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire. They're free-range and hung with their guts in for one week for flavour.

The farm produces 200 birds a week, the male of which is a Cornish cockerel, the female a White Rock pullet. There's no fencing, so the birds are free to roam over varied terrain and have the chance to mix with other animals. Their diet is maize from four weeks, not a high-protein diet. They are killed by hand from 10 weeks up to 15 weeks, immediately dry-plucked and hung.

First, break the bird down into the two breasts, two legs, two wings, one liver, one heart and the remaining carcass. This takes two minutes and will give you the various components to make the stock and our separate dishes.

slow-roasted leg of chicken with parsley root
slow-roasted leg of chicken with parsley root
Slow-roasted leg of chicken with parsley root

Ingredients
(Serves two)

2 chicken legs
Salt and pepper
1 medium-sized onion
1 stick of celery
200g Maris Piper potato, chopped into 1cm cubes
200g parsley root
50g butter
100ml chicken stock
2tbs double cream
10g wild leeks

Method
Lightly salt the leg overnight. Roast in a low oven until tender (140°C for about an hour). Sweat the diced onion with a stick of celery and a diced potato in 50g butter, adding the parsley root after five minutes. When tender, add 100ml of stock and a splash of cream. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat, rest, then add chopped wild leeks and serve with leg finished in a hot oven or under the grill.

Breast of chicken with wild garlic and mushrooms
Breast of chicken with wild garlic and mushrooms
Breast of chicken with wild garlic and mushrooms

Ingredients
(Serves two)

2 breasts of chicken
90g butter
250g wild garlic
1 shallot, diced
150g wild mushrooms
1tsp sugar
Squeeze of lemon
Salt and pepper

Method
Rub 30g butter into the breast, season, place skin side down in a suitably sized iron pan and place in the oven at 180°C for 15-20 minutes until cooked through. Blanch and refresh the wild garlic. Sweat the shallot, add the mushrooms, a pinch of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Reduce a little chicken stock in the chicken cooking pan and finish with 30g butter. Warm the wild garlic in 30g butter, then plate with the mushrooms and the sauce. Slice the chicken and dress on top.

liver on toast
liver on toast
Liver on toast

Ingredients
(Serves one)

2 chicken wings
2 shallots, diced
1 chicken heart
1 chicken liver
75g butter
200ml chicken stock
10g wild leeks, chopped

Method
Roast the chicken wings in the oven for 15 minutes at 200°C. Cool, and pick the meat from the bone. Season and sweat the shallots in 25g butter. Add the heart, liver and thyme and fry for three minutes, turning regularly. Tip out and chop the meat into small pieces. Reduce 200ml of chicken stock by half, and mix with the picked chicken meat and the wild leek. Put in a ramekin or terrine. Melt the remaining butter, pour over and set. Serve with warm toast.

Chicken soup
Chicken soup
Chicken soup

Ingredients
(Serves two)

2 leeks, chopped
4 shallots, diced
2 celery sticks, chopped
50g butter
1 bay leaf
700ml chicken stock

Method
Sweat the leeks, shallots and celery sticks in 50g butter with the bay leaf. When soft, add enough stock to cover the vegetables and simmer for a few minutes. Add the remaining stock, lemon juice and 50g butter. Check seasoning and whisk really well to incorporate. Spoon the veg into a warm bowl and ladle over the stock.

chicken
chicken
Chicken stock

Ingredients
1 chicken carcass
1 litre water
1 leek, chopped
1 medium-sized onion, diced
1 stick celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 peppercorns
Salt and pepper

Method
Wash the carcass in cold water, place in a pan and cover. Add a chopped leek, onion, celery, the bay leaf and a few peppercorns. Lightly season the water, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Pass through a chinois and set aside.

Profit breakdown

Costs

1 x 1.8-2kg free-range bird£10.00
1 celery£1.00
1kg leeks£1.20
1kg onions£0.50
265g good whey butter (£1.10 per 250g) £1.16
250g wild garlic (£8 per kg)£2.00
100g shallots (£1.20 per kg)£0.12
150g mushrooms (£15 per kg) £2.25
2 lemons (8p each)£0.16
200g Maris Piper potatoes (50p per kg) £0.10
200g parsley root (£2 per kg)£0.40
100ml double cream (£2.50 per litre)£0.25
20g wild leeks (£10 per kg)£0.20
Total cost£19.59
Selling prices
2 x Chicken breast with wild garlic and mushrooms (£15)£30.00
2 x Chicken leg, potato and wild leeks (£14)£28.00
2 x Chicken broth (£4)£8.00
1 x Liver, heart and thyme on toast£4.50
Total revenue£70.50
Gross profit£50.91
Weeden buys his chickens from Chef Direct (01275 474707)
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