Silkie chickens aren’t something you see on menus in our local restaurants in Alberta. The sole reason being that the black-fleshed bird takes a bit of a mind-over-matter attempt to digest. If you remember the marketing flop that Heinz was guilty of with purple ketchup, you’ll understand why. Remember – you eat with your eyes first.
Superstore carries Canadian-raised Silkies – you’ll find them in the frozen meat section, and being that our family is not known to shy away from uncommon foods, we decided to give this bird a go.
Silkies are a beautiful animal, when fully clothed.
But when stripped of their fluffy plumage, it’s a whole different story.
Once the bird thawed and was taken out of the package, I second guessed my task. Could this thing actually turn into something edible? I didn’t have high hopes.
My search for recipes indicated that these chickens are best used in soups or stews, probably because there is not a lot of meat on the bones and braising or stewing them not only brings out the flavour of the flesh, but of the bones as well. I chose a Thai recipe featured in the New York Times from 2007. Black Skinned Chicken Slow-Cooked in Coconut Sauce. Even though the dish sounds exotic, it is not complicated to make.
I’m happy to report that the dish turned out superbly. The recipe indicated it would feed two people, and it did – there was even a bit leftover. If you love Thai food, and you’re a bit adventurous, this is a great dish to try.
Click the recipe link above. In a nutshell, you will need:
1 – 1.5 lb Silkie Chicken, chicken broth, fresh ginger, white or yellow onion, Chinese rice wine (not rice vinegar), five spice powder, garlic, salt and pepper, vegetable oil, Thai red curry paste (I used panang curry paste), tomato paste, 1 can coconut milk, 1 zucchini, fresh lime, fresh basil leaves.
Step 1: In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine chicken, stock, wine, ginger, onion, garlic, five-spice powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, covered, until chicken is very tender, 1 to 11/2 hours. Remove chicken and set aside. Strain and reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid.
Step 2: Place a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, and add oil. When hot, add ginger and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in curry paste, tomato paste and coconut milk. Add chicken, reserved cooking liquid and a pinch of salt.
Step 3: Cover and bring to a gentle simmer. Add zucchini and simmer just until cooked, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in lime juice and transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with chopped basil, and serve.
I goofed up on one part: I added too much of the reserved liquid. The downside is that it diluted the curry and coconut flavours, but the upside is that I now have extra sauce to incorporate into a quasi-Thai Thom Yum soup.