08/15/18 4:30pm
REPORTER FILE PHOTO The 2017 barbecue was the hot place to be.

The 2017 barbecue was the hot place to be.

Rain or shine, Saturday’s 55th Annual Shelter Island Fire Department Chicken Barbecue will go on as scheduled, according to Chief Anthony Reiter. A large tent at Fireman’s Field will shelter attendees from what could be occasional rain if the early forecast is correct.


12/22/17 2:00pm
CLARK MITCHELL PHOTO | Chicken paprikash.

CLARK MITCHELL PHOTO | Chicken paprikash.

With the reality of winter firmly setting in, my focus in the kitchen turns squarely to stewing and braising. Without the right seasoning, I find that many of these slow-cooked preparations can end up a bit on the bland side. Even a perfectly made beef stew can often leave the taste buds wanting just a bit more action.

I found my answer to this conundrum some years ago when I was invited to my friends’ parents house for dinner. His father was Hungarian, and that night we had paprikás csirke, or chicken paprikash. All I could say was wow. It’s since become my absolute favorite thing to cook in the winter. (more…)

08/25/17 8:00am
BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Sophie, Lochlan and Jess Eden enjoy watermelon for dessert.

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Sophie, Lochlan and Jess Eden enjoy watermelon for dessert.

The masses descended on Fireman’s Field on August 19 for the 54th annual Shelter Island Fire Department Chicken Barbecue. Department volunteers prepared 1,800 chicken halves, 70 bushels of corn and 450 pounds of potato salad. Some 1,440 tickets were sold for this year’s event, which brought in $36,000 to help pay for department equipment beyond what the Board of Fire Commissioners provides in its annual budget. (more…)

10/01/13 8:00am

CHARITY ROBEY PHOTO | Chris Browder and one of his pastured chickens.

If there is one thing my neighbor’s cat and I agree on, it’s that a poultry dinner is a fine thing. We also share the opinion that locally-sourced poultry is best.

In the 1960s and 70s, Long Island produced six million ducks a year — more than any other region of the United States. Lately, a confident flock of wild turkeys brings vehicles to a standstill as they saunter across Route 114. And delicious North Fork chickens have been available at the Greenport and Shelter Island Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning.

Chris and Holly Browder of Browders’ Birds are regulars at the farmers’ markets, and they will continue to sell birds through October from their farm in Southold on Youngs Avenue on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Holly Browder says the cool weather this spring resulted in larger chickens in the early part of the season. Once the weather heated up, the chickens did not eat as much and they started to sell the 3- to 4-pound chickens that are the easiest to cook.

Holly says the 8- to 10-week old Cornish Cross variety that they sell is “the standard meat bird,” the one most sought-after whether you roast it, fry it or slap it on the grill.

Browders’ Birds practices “pastured poultry,” which involves keeping the chickens in a mobile enclosure surrounded by a protective fence. The enclosure moves over the pasture, the birds move freely in and out of the enclosure and the chickens get all the benefits of being free-range without the downside of predators from above making a dinner of them. Because making a dinner of them is my job.

My favorite way to cook a chicken is adapted from “The Zuni Café Cookbook,” and it always results in a delicious crispy skin and juicy meat. Twenty-four to 36 hours before I want to eat the chicken, I rub it with a handful of seasoned salt and fresh herbs. I then refrigerate it, covered only enough to keep the ketchup on the top shelf of my refrigerator from dripping down onto it. Forty-five minutes before dinner, I disconnect the smoke detectors, place the chicken on a hot iron skillet in a preheated oven and await my perfectly-roasted bird.

Roasted Chicken
1 whole chicken, 3.5 to 4.5 pounds
3 to 4 teaspoons of kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
8 sprigs of herbs, such as tarragon (the lemony flavor is wonderful with chicken) or thyme, rinsed and dried, each sprig about the size of a cocktail toothpick.

Remove the neck and giblets from the bird if they are still in place, and using a paper towel, pull off and discard any excess fat from the flap of skin around the cavity. Leave the skin on the chicken. Rinse the bird in cold water and dry it with paper towels inside and out.

Mix the salt and ground pepper together in a small bowl. Put one teaspoon of the salt mixture in the cavity of the bird. Using your hands, rub the rest of the salt mixture into the skin of the chicken. Use most of the salt on the skin over the fleshy parts of the chicken: the breast, thighs and legs.

Slip a finger under the skin on the breast of the chicken and insert two sprigs of the herbs between the meat and the skin. Repeat this on the other breast. Work your way under the skin on the thigh. Insert two sprigs of herbs between the thigh and leg meat and the skin.

Repeat on the other thigh and leg.

Cover the chicken very loosely with wax paper and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. During this time, the skin of the chicken should become quite dry.

Thirty minutes before cooking the chicken, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and remove the chicken from the refrigerator.

Heat a 9- or 10-inch heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over a medium flame for one minute and place the chicken on the dry hot skillet breast side up.

Transfer the skillet carefully to a middle rack in the hot oven.

Roast for 35 minutes, then turn the chicken breast side down for five more minutes of roasting. If it needs another five minutes, turn it breast side up again. The chicken is done when the leg joints are loose, the internal temperature is 165 degrees and the juices run clear.