Sunday, December 27, 2009

No bones about it

Ready for carving.

Now the boneless chicken has long been considered my father’s speciality. Just imagine a completely de-boned chicken (just with the wing tips and a bit of the leg bone left for aesthetic purposes) stuffed generously with a savoury bread and vegetable medley. Then it’s slow roasted with a plain basting of turmeric and clarified butter (ghee) before it is carved at the table.

My father actually learnt this from his mother, but not directly. He picked it up watching her de-bone chickens for close friends and family functions and somehow managed to master the art himself. He has now become such a pro he has developed his own style of deboning the bird and can finish a complete deboning in less than 45 minutes. Last year my mother and he even took orders last for Christmas but with all the wedding preparations this year it wasn’t possible to do so this time as well.

This year we made the chicken Sean-friendly keeping the stuffing completely vegetarian (we usually add cold cuts and bacon) and making a finishing glaze with agave syrup instead of honey. The only thing we cheated at was swapping the clarified butter for some home rendered pork lard. Sean is allowed to eat animal fat, as long as it is organic, but the butcher couldn't tell us how the pig was raised so we kept the lard to a minimum. The finished chicken was moist and extremely succulent. My father was actually surprised that the vegetarian stuffing also turned out as delicious.

Most people who have had dinner at my home in Bombay known of the boneless chicken. It has travelled all the way to Dubai as well when one of my close friends coaxed my dad into sending one for me as a surprise last year. My dad has even deboned turkeys (the biggest one being nine kilos) and it's safe to say no festive meal at my parents' home is complete without some deboned poultry. We still have the one chicken I deboned stuck in the freezer and my father plans to stuff it with a rice filling for dinner on New Year's Eve.

By next December I want to be able to debone and cook a chicken exactly like my parents do for Christmas, which in all probability will be in Canada and miles away from them in Bombay. So I had my first lesson with my father last week, which proved to be harder than I imagined. Obviously I’m going to have to tear through several chickens before I can produce a product as perfect as my father’s. But hey, that’s part of the challenge.

I also learnt something about my father this year – the man has patience. He’s not known for sitting in one place and has been nicknamed ‘Restless Jack’ and ‘monkey on hot bricks’ because he always has to be doing something. But while learning how to debone the chicken with him I realised he actually has selective patience – just for the things he chooses to be patient for.

So this post is dedicated to my father and fingers crossed a perfect bird next year – salut!

Chicken (a petname of mine when I was younger) stuffing the chicken.

Stuffed and ready for suturing.

Dr. Father at work.

Bottle of luscious pork lard rendered last week.
Lard on Foodista

Anointing of lard, mustard and turmeric.

Ready for the oven.

My father carving.


1 comment:

  1. is perfect, I prefer it this way,
    many wishes for the new-year eve