A hundred lucky attendees to last month’s Atlanta Food and Wine Festival braved the sun on the outdoor grilling terrace of the Loews Atlanta Hotel for a master class in the art of butchering and cooking chickens presented by Springer Mountain Farms and Big Green Egg. Participating Atlanta chefs Rusty Bowers of Pine Street Market, Jason Jimenez of Kitchen Six and AIX Atlanta’s Nick Leahy concentrated on the sustainable benefits of butchering and cooking whole animals, specifically chickens from Springer Mountain in this hour-long seminar where students got to eat what they learned.
Bowers kicked off the class by making quick work of demonstrating how to cut up a whole chicken into component parts for braising or frying with a special emphasis on how to use the leftover trims to make delicious stocks for use in future dishes. Nimble with a knife, Bowers showed the difference between 6-piece, 8-piece and 10-piece cuts and why cooks might want to use one over the other in a particular dish. He also demonstrated how easy it is to debone a chicken to use in a classic roulade before handing the floppy flapper over to chef Jiminez to finish the dish.
Jiminez took the boned chicken and created a classic French dish of Roasted Chicken Ballotine with Peach and Charred Onion Panzanella Salad, taking advantage of the fresh and seasonal ingredients available in Georgia in the early summer, just like he does at his restaurant. Attendees were delighted by their bites of the delicious chicken and charred salad, hot off the grill as soon as Jiminez removed them from the Big Green Egg.
Not wanting to forget about that packet of giblets and livers that are tucked inside of whole Springer Mountain Farm chickens (and that way too many people just throw away,) chef Leahy demonstrated how easy it is to properly clean and prepare a chicken liver as part of an easy dish of Cast Iron Chicken Livers with Potatoes, Bacon and Peppers cooked directly on the grate of a Big Green Egg. Of course, everything is better with bacon, and the crispy belly that Bowers brought with him from his Pine Street Market was the perfect accompaniment to Leahy’s earthy livers.
The assembled students stuck around after class to enjoy extra bites of the delightful food and query the chefs for even more tips on whole-animal utilization. Here’s to hoping that more home cooks will take on the easy task of more sustainable use of their chickens.