The Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley, and Roast Chicken
Posted in DIY / Good Ideas / Kitchen Adventures / Places / San Francisco Bay Area | 4 Comments |
There’s nothing like eating huevos de la casa at my favorite hole-in-the-wall breakfast joint while reading the New York Times in paper format. And as luck would have it, yesterday there was an article in the dining section about exactly what I had on my mind: good butchers.
The Local Butcher Shop recently opened in Berkeley. It is a magnificent place that will do (almost) anything you ask of them. Buy a whole rabbit and half can be butchered into desireable chops and the rest ground. Choose any kind of cut from humanely-raised, fully marbled, never corn-fed beef, lamb, pig and more from within 150 miles of Berkeley and pay one of three prices for front parts, middle, and back. The farms they source from are the same ones from which Chez Panisse and Olivetto procure their meat – just two of the phenomenal restaurants at which married owners Monica and Aaron Rocchino have worked.
In addition to giving us home cooks access to the best tasting, most thoughtfully raised meats, Local Butcher is a learning experience – a place to discover quail, query about beef plate, try your hand at cooking tongue, or watch the correct way to twine a chicken for roasting. There’s a full fridge of luscious stocks and demiglaces, rendered fats, and soups. You can pick up offal or pigs ears for you or to make into doggie treats – my poodle is forever in adoration.
There is a sandwhich of the the day - everyone here are more than meat slicers, but experienced chefs. Along the far wall you’ll find apt accoutrements like Rancho Gordo heirloom beans from Sonoma, Marin-grown wheat pasta made in Oakland, raw honey from Napa and other local treats. This is the local butcher, after all.
I’m hoping to snag a chance to sit down with Monica after the Thanksgiving turkey rush is through and post a podcast. (Did I mention, you can order your ideal bird from them in advance?) Until then, I’ll head home and make a roast chicken with one of these prime birds, feet on for extra flavor. Since it is the beginning of pepper season, rather peppercorn season, I thought I’d make a green pepper preparation from some fronds I foraged.
Start by soaking your clay cooker in water for 30 minutes – I use cold water. Rinse the whole, trussed chicken and pat dry. Keep washing your hands and not touching anything with chicken-y hands – you know the drill. Place the chicken in the bottom portion of the cooker with the chicken breasts face down.
Paint on lemon juice, I used Meyers from my garden, and a small amount of salt evenly coating the bird. In a mortar and pestle crush a small handful of green or pink peppercorns, the less you crush the lighter the flavor, don’t pulverize. I use half whole and half crushed, and drape them ontop of the chicken. I had homemade mustard so I put a few smears of that on top too. You could easily skip this, or add a bit of melted butter, but I keep it simple. My general philosophy is to use what I have rather than go way out of my way for some specific ingredient that could be swapped or skipped.
Cover the chicken and place in a cold oven. Turn to 400-degrees F and roast for 45 minutes. I had a four and a half pound bird so it took this long – if you were using a smaller bird you’d only need 30 minutes.
Pull it out of the oven and remove the top of the cooker. In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup citrus juice – orange or grapefruit, I used grapefruit since I had it on hand – and 1/4 cup soy sauce and 1/4 cup honey or jam. Mix to combine, then paint on with a pastry brush as evenly as possible, getting all the nooks and crannies. Place back in oven and cook another 30 minutes or until the house smells amazing and the skin is crispy brown.
I love second joints, so I carved it up and served with simple sauteed summer squash – the last from my sad vines – dashed with a pinch of salt and a pinch of Hungarian paprika, and a simple salad from what was in the garden… mache and cherry tomatoes with a sprinkle of parsley and balsamic.
The leftovers were my sandwich today – for sliced bread I love Ezekiel bread, with a healthy smear of mayo, some pickled onions I made last month, and more of those tomatoes. Tomorrow I’ll make stock for some roast-y soup – probably incorporating the pumpkins and squash we’ve collected from Halloween. Ah, the glory of a good roast chicken. This one was especially good because I started with such a perfect bird. Thanks Local Butcher – you know I’ll be back for seconds, and thirds…