The Costco Report: Episodic observations on where to port safely, and what to avoid like a pestilence, when navigating an ocean of consumer non-durables under a sheet metal sky… In today’s edition, a pretty good deal on organic chicken, and a nice way to use your seasonal garden while you cook it.
If you insist on eating strictly local products from small family businesses that hold themselves to the highest possible standards of ethics and quality, I certainly won’t be the one to talk you out of it, and this chicken will not be for you; instead, I’d refer you to the good folks at Gleason Ranch, and the related article by my friends over at BiteClub on the virtues of the $26 chicken (there are many). But if – like our family – you support local producers whenever and understand the imperative to feed your family consistently well without breaking the bank, then – also like our family – you supplement roadside farm stands and weekend markets with trips to big-box retailers. The trick, of course, is to tease out only the best of what the big-box stores have to offer from the underlying ocean of unadulterated crap. It’s with this in mind that I recently served my kids a nicely grilled Organic Boneless Chicken with Meyer Lemons, Rosemary, and Garlic, for which I paid less than $7/lb at Costco. Flavored with stuff I grew, cooked in one pan with virtually no prep, and a tasty, healthy meal, with the added bonus of economies-of-scale leftovers.
The provenance of the bird itself is the Coleman Organics brand, specifically the boneless, skinless thighs (they also have breasts, if that’s your thing, but I’ve never really understood Americans’ predilection to pay more for something that tastes, well, less). Coleman claims that they farm sustainably, ethically, feed only vegetarian grain without the use of antibiotics, and are USDA-certified organic. I have no doubt that the USDA label covers a wide range of practices, some a lot less wholesome than I’d like, and – by virtue of their size alone – that Coleman is on the “industrial” end of the spectrum. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the company’s role in a beef recall at Whole Foods, so I did some surfing this morning, tried to find out about Coleman’s other poultry brands, but unfortunately couldn’t find much, either pro- or con; if you know of any good animal welfare/food quality sites or research that talks about the Coleman brands, please post it in the comments. What I can tell you, at least, is that it tastes good.
Grilled Chicken with Garlic, Meyer Lemons, and Rosemary from My Garden
- Season 1-1.5lb of chicken meat (I used a pack of the organic boneless, skinless thighs from Costco mentioned above, but you could use any cut, really) liberally with salt and pepper and place in a heavy duty Zip Loc bag, along with a few sprigs of rosemary, 2-3 crushed garlic cloves, and a couple of sliced Meyer lemons (don’t even bother seeding them).
- Place the bag in a bowl (for sanitation, in case it leaks) and leave in the fridge for whatever time you have
(an hour, overnight, longer is better, but it will taste good regardless).
- Heat a grill pan or skillet on medium heat and cook until nicely colored on both sides and the juices run clear (use a kitchen thermometer if you have any question about done-ness; chicken is unsafe when undercooked, and inedible when overcooked).
- Serve on a bed of more sliced Meyers, or use more of that edible Meyer lemon confit I keep talking about, which adds a wonderful flavor when eaten with the chicken. (The chicken may want a bit more salt; I garnished mine with a little sprinkling of fleur de sel and some more freshly cracked pepper.)