Happy chickens are better: why we use Dewberry Hills Farms
The warm snap last week served as a lovely reminder that spring is around the corner. But before the winter season gets away from us, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate one of my favorites meals on our current menu, the coq au vin.
Our take on this venerable bistro classic is fairly modern. A traditional coq au vin starts with a wily old farm rooster at the end of its long life in the French countryside - it literally translates to "rooster in wine." Cooks braise the meat in a red wine wine sauce in order to tenderize the tough meat. The Texas French Bread coq au vin uses a young, pasture-raised bird from Dewberry Hills Farms - no tough old rooster meat here! We try to highlight that flavor by roasting the chicken instead of braising it. Then we add a restrained red wine reduction with house cured bacon from Richardson's Farm and some winter vegetables:c'est magnifique!
There's a reason why the Dewberry Hills Farms birds are so special. Most modern chicken farms, whether they call themselves "cage free," "natural" or "organic," are really just big factory farms. Plenty has been written, not only about the inhumane conditions animals are subject to at these giant "agribusinesses", but also about the negative environmental consequences of those practices. At Dewberry Hills Farms (located near Elgin), husband and wife chicken-wranglers, Jane and Terry Levan, team up to raise chickens that taste extraordinary. The birds spend their days outdoors in large movable pens. They get to move around, they get fresh air and sunshine, and their diet includes naturally grubbed insects, grasses, and roots - you know, the stuff that chickens were designed to eat. Their varied diet results in birds that have actual flavor. Go visit them, it's gorgeous out there!
Here at Texas French Bread, we throw our full-hearted support (and our money!) behind folks like Jane and Terry. They're small, independent farmers who understand that food is sacred and should be honored as opposed to being produced cheaply, expediently, and profitably. And they're two of the hardest working people we know. In short, our coq au vin is a benchmark for the kind of food we want to serve.
Come join us for dinner soon and be sure to try the coq au vin. Pair it with a glass of our Rhone Valley Syrah (on by the glass) and raise a toast to our local farmers!