Technically, I’m a pescatarian. I’ve oscillated between vegetarianism and pescatarianism since I was 17.
I believe people should consume less meat, or at least consider where their food is coming from. Yet, I also recognize much more than when I was younger the politics of food. Not everyone has access to healthy, complete diets without meat. This is especially true, as granola hipsters like myself drive up the demand and prices for quinoa, tofu, and other wholesome meal items.
It frustrates me when people ignore the conditions of the meat industry, or the effects of factory farming on animal welfare and the environment. I also know that no one has a perfect solution to these issues. The world food situation is complicated. There is no one, quick fix across cultures, geographic boundaries, or economies. I think learning about these issues is important, but it is an endeavour fraught with emotion. While Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals was a beautiful, meaningful analysis of what it means to be an omnivore in the 21st century, it was also a tremendously difficult read. It’s a glimpse at reality, which makes it all the more graphic. Further, breaking bread is an intimate act: the Netflix documentary series Cooked made me think more about the social complexity of food. It’s wrapped up in emotion and nostalgia; the smell of turkey on Thanksgiving will always stir up emotions for me.
I tend to think in absolutes. Lately though, I’m trying to remember the importance of existing in moderation. While I don’t necessarily subscribe to all of Aristotle’s philosophies (even on ethics), his theory on the golden mean is thought-provoking. To reference Wikipedia (in all its omniscience): “In philosophy, especially that of Aristotle, the golden mean is the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency.” I’m exploring moderation in my life more. Not being overly strict, not being complacent, but striving for a middle ground. Sometimes I feel bad that I indulge in eating fish at all; other times I happily eat sushi with my partner, or turkey on holidays.
With that in mind, I recently made a roast chicken! My partner doesn’t eat red meat, but is an ardent lover of fish and poultry. And after all, Martha Stewart once said that roast chicken is among the greatest tests of a chef’s abilities. Wanting to prove my prowess and treat my partner to some poultry, I set to work.
I popped over to Pasture to Plate to get my 4 lb-chicken. The butcher located on Commercial Drive is all about transparency and organic, ethically raised meat. I’m not about to abandon pescatarianism to eat at KFC; but I don’t mind indulging in some ethically raised poultry every once in a while. The bb chicken was plump and lovely, and the butchers gave me helpful tips.
I’ve never cooked any poultry before, let alone a whole roast chicken. This endeavour proved I take after my mother in cooking anxiety. I washed my hands so many times, my fingers quickly turned into prunes.
I rinsed off a whole lemon, grabbed fresh rosemary sprigs, and cracked some sea salt and pepper onto the bird. After thoroughly washing my hands in between handling the chicken, I popped the poultry into a preheated oven (at 450°).
From there, cooking the bird doesn’t require much. Get some roasted potatoes a-cookin’, make up a salad, and wait for the chicken to cook through. If the bird has been raised well, it won’t dry out. Just make sure there are no hints of pink anywhere in the bird—slice through to check. If there are traces of pink or red, toss it back in the oven. I probably cooked my chicken for about 70 minutes, and it was still beautifully juicy when it was done.
Lemon and rosemary is a classic combination. Alternatively, try an onion, these 11 ways to flavour roast chicken (via Food & Wine), or just simple salt ‘n’ pepper.
Diets are elastic and evolving. I’m generally vegetarian and pescatarian (if not vegan) from day to day, but the occasional roast chicken with someone I love isn’t a guilty indulgence. I’m still exploring food and my relationship with it. My goal is to always consume thoughtfully—I think that’s as ethically as I can expect myself to eat.
What are your thoughts on meat / no-meat? And, if you eat meat, what’s your favourite way to roast chicken?