There are few birds quite so beautifully suited to a dark dinner as the Black Silkie, a small chicken with naturally occurring black bones and skin and dark rich meat. Before you think the color of this chicken is a result of photo manipulation or dye, let me assure you, this is how these chickens are born and bred. The black color is a result of fibromelanosis, a rare genetic mutation of hyperpigmentation and is 100% natural.
Not only do Silkies look like the’re on the lam from a Goth KFC, they are leaner than the typical roasting bird, resulting in a meat that is far less greasy than the usual fowl you pick up at the store. What they lack in grease, however, is more than made up for with taste. A Silkie tastes a bit like a traditional roasted chicken, but with a light touch of duck, giving it a subtle, exotic flavor that lends itself well to the smoky flavor of the paprika rub in this recipe.
Silkies are a bit of a specialty bird and while it might be hard to find them at your local chain grocer, can be found in many Asian shops. Be warned, however, these birds are often sold whole…which means there is some disassembly required.
This recipe makes one 5-6 lb roasted bird.
- 1 whole 4-5 pound Black Silkie chicken
- 2 Tablespoons smoked paprika
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 Teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon black pepper
- 4 Tablespoons honey
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 Tablespoon lime juice
- 1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne pepper
Preheat your oven to 325F/162C.
With a sharp knife, cut off your Silkie’s head and the lower portion of the legs. Save these…you will need them in the future for another recipe. Freeze them for now.
Rinse off your Silkie and pat dry with a paper towel. You will want the skin dry so the rub will adhere well. Too wet and it will slide off.
Mix together the paprika, melted butter, garlic powder, salt, pepper and cayenne until it forms a thick paste.
Reserve 1 Teaspoon of your paste and set aside for later.
Using your hands, spread the rest of the paste onto your Silkie, rubbing it deep into the skin.
Place your Silkie onto a shallow roasting pan and pop into the oven for 35 minutes.
In a separate bowl, combine the honey, lemon juice, lime juice and 1 Teaspoon of reserved rub into a baste.
After 30 minutes in the oven, remove your Silkie and baste with the lemon/lime/honey glaze. Return the Silkie to the oven and continue to cook for an additional 45 minutes, removing every 15 minutes to baste.
Because the Silkie has naturally dark flesh, it is wise to use a meat thermometer to test for doneness rather than a visual appraisal based on juice color. Your bird will be safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 160F/70C on the breast and 165F/73C on the thigh.
Remove from the oven and serve immediately. The rich subtle flavor and slight spice of the Silkie and smoked paprika rub pair beautifully both in taste and look with black forbidden rice and pineapple (recipe coming soon).
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