As you may know, we at Muddy Boots are very proud to stock the best Chickens in Crouch End.
Those are our customer’s words – not ours (although we do strongly agree!). We get a weekly delivery direct from the wonderful Packington Free Range Farm in Staffordshire, every Wednesday, and have people from all over the area come directly to us for our fairly priced, generally massive (we call them “dinosaur chickens”) and delicious, free range chickens – every week.
Chicken is probably the most popular meat in Britain, not least because its easy to farm and cheap to buy. We thought it was time we threw together our guide to the humble chicken – to help you decide why you should buy the best, and give you some tips on what to do with it.
An Audio Guide
For your convenience (and because we are fancy) Miranda has recorded a portion of the Chicken and Poultry chapter of her new book, Modern Meat Kitchen. Give it a listen below – it covers the ins and outs of chicken and poultry – answers some questions you might have and pushes home the argument for free range, well farmed birds.
Chicken in the Shop
All of our chicken comes from Packington Free-Range Farm in Staffordshire. We love these guys – they farm chicken (and pork!) to the highest welfare standards using traditional, slow farming methods. Their philosophy is simple
“What’s good for the animals and the land will naturally be good for us and better for our customers.”
And we couldn’t agree more. You can find out more about their farming practices over on their website.
We get a lot of questions about our chicken in the shop, and love chatting with our customers about the way they are farmed and where they come from. In fact, we encourage you to ask these questions of any meat supplier – they should be able to answer these readily and gladly. Some of our most commonly asked questions in the shop about our chicken are:
Are your chickens injected with growth hormones or antibiotics? Are they organic?
Easy – no they are not injected with anything. Packington chickens are organically farmed – though not organically certified. The organic certificate is expensive for small farms to obtain but rest assured the farming practices are the same, on which the certificate (designed for large farms and supermarket supply) was designed. We’ve been to the farm and work closely with them, so we know and trust that they are using the highest welfare standards possible to farm their animals.
Are they corn fed?
Packington let their chickens roam free, eating all the bugs and grass they like – just as chicken have been farmed for generations. They have corn in feeding trays to top up their food if they choose but you’ll see the difference in the colouring in the meat that the paler ones just ate grass, clover and forage.
Why do you have no chickens left?
Because we only get one delivery per week from the farm on a Wednesday, and numbers are limited. We encourage you to pre-order your chicken over the phone or online to make sure we have get what you need.
But why do you only get one delivery per week? And why don’t you order more?
Our delivery arrives every Wednesday between 1-3pm, direct from the farm. If we were to get more than one delivery per week – this would have to increase the price to cover the transport and would put pressure on the rearing and slaughter schedule at the farm. It’s not a simple balance to use only fresh meat (not from frozen) and buy direct from farms and we do appreciate that availability will be where we will sometimes have to let our customers down but we’re so lucky to have a shop in a community that understands this. We do try to order more than we’ll sell as any chickens we don’t sell go into our chicken stock and ready meals. While the chickens are still perfectly fresh on a Monday/Tuesday, they aren’t suitable for cooking later in the week so we’ll suggest cooking or freezing that day and always point out any shelflife if it’s soon.
Can you cut down a chicken for me?
Yes of course! In store you can buy breast, legs, drumsticks and wings – as well as anything fancy Miranda feels like trying out that week (fun fact, a chicken breast with the wings attached is called AIRLINE CHICKEN! We learn every day here at Muddy Boots.) We can also crown, spatchcock, Ballotine or cut down a chicken for you at your request any day from Thursday – Saturday.
What chicken joints do you sell?
As standard, every week we have breast, leg, drumsticks, boneless thigh and wings on the shelf every week from Wednesday afternoon.
We can also offer spatchcock, crown, and Ballotine (boneless, stuffed rolled chicken roast) to order.
I want to make sure I get my chicken for the weekend – what is the best way to do that?
You can pre-order your chicken on our website for collection in store, whenever you like.
Pre-ordering on site is super easy. Just add your selection to your basket, select the date to collect at check out (note: Chickens are available Thursday – Saturday only) and we’ll see you in store! We take an £8 deposit on whole chickens when you order, and you pay the rest upon collection (normally between £4-6). Please note we do not offer home delivery quite yet (we’re working on it!).
You can of course call us on 0208 245 4240 and we’ll hold one aside for you.
Preparing & Cooking Chicken
We do get asked a lot in the shop what the best ways to cook a chicken are. Miranda has a bunch of recipes in her new book (you can buy it here, cheeky plug) and most of us are super into our food, so love chatting about and sharing our favourite recipes. I make a really banging chicken stew that we all enjoy for lunch of an occasion – I might share that with you one day soon.
Cutting Down a Chicken
Cutting down a chicken is super easy once you’ve sussed out your bird and sharpened your knife.
Here is our How To guide – video courtesy of Miranda’s publishers Ryland, Peters & Small to help you out.
Cooking a Chicken
Our chickens are all between 1.7-2kg and can take anywhere from 1hr 45min – 2hr 15mins to cook, depending on size (we always write this on the label for you!). If roasting, I personally like to leave out adding any extra oil or fat, pat dry with a piece of kitchen towel, covering in minced garlic, fresh or dried herbs, and squeezing a lemon over (sticking the halves up the chooks bum) before popping it in the oven. This way you get extra crispy delicious skin, and you’ll be surprised how moist it will stay without the butter/oil added. Lemon + Chicken = heaven.
The joy of roasting is that afterwards you have leftovers for additional meals (sandwiches, salads, throw in with some pasta or make into a curry) and a glorious carcass to make into a good stock base for future use.
Buying a whole chicken is so economical – for both the wallet and the kitchen table!
Other Poultry at Muddy Boots
Maybe you don’t fancy a chicken and want to try something different?
Duck is in season at the moment, and we get in 4 whole ducks every week for the shelf. We source the very best Gressingham Ducks and they make a wonderful fancy roast dinner.
We can also special order in other poultry at your request.
- Guinea fowl (we have a few in the freezer right now!)
- Partridge (the 3 P’s!)
- 2 or 3 bird roasts to order (2 birds = chicken + duck, 3 = guinea fowl + chicken + duck).
Its always worth asking us if there is something special you are looking for – we’ll always try our best to source what you are looking for.
Please allow 1 week lead time on all specially ordered meats, as we need to allow for delivery from the farms.
Right I think that’s everything! If you have any more questions that we haven’t answered here – let us know in the comments, contact us online, connect with us on twitter or pop into the store for a chat.
We’re open 7 days, 9am – 9pm. See you soon!