my first pasture raised chicken

16Apr08

last night i did the first part of this week’s cure assignment, roasting a chicken. last saturday vincent and i were at the farmer’s market and purchased a chicken from Deck Family Farm. for the last couple of weeks we have been enjoying their amazing eggs. the yolks are so bright! so different from the eggs at the grocery store, even the organic ones… we also have some of their bacon and ground beef, but haven’t tried it yet. they’re still in the freezer. we are trying to eat less pork and beef, so those items are reserved as more ‘special occasion’ treats.

but anyway, back to the chicken! here’s what i did:

rinsed it, patted it dry, and put it in a salt water brine for an hour

then i made a mixture out of garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and olive oil and stuffed it under the skin of the breast. i rubbed the rest of it on the skin along with a little more olive oil. i also quartered some potatoes, squash and carrots and mixed them with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. the chicken goes on the V rack and the veggies in the tray below, that way they get coated with the chicken drippings… yum! oh, and i put a lemon in the cavity.

while that was roasting i made a simple salad. along with wanting more veggies with our meal, i wanted something light and fresh to balance out the roasted chicken and vegetables.

then i got to sit and relax a bit with a glass of wine and chat with vincent.

and then dinner was served!

it was all delicious! our only complaint was the the chicken was a little tougher than we’re used to. we were sitting there, eating it, and i was trying to figure out why, i mean, i brined it, which is usually the key to making flavorful, juicy meat, although that wasn’t the problem here. it was plenty juicy and flavorful. and then it hit me, “well, it’s tougher because it walked.” and then we looked at the chicken in a totally different way. i mean, of course chickens walk, but i had never really thought about it in relation to ‘my’ chicken. the thing is that this chicken really did get to walk, more than any other ‘free range’ bird would. sadly, free range just means that for a certain amount of time each year the birds have access to outside. no, they’re not in cages, but they aren’t really outside either. according to The Omnivore’s Dilemma, free range usually means that they never leave the hen house. they spent so much time in there with the door locked that when the door is unlocked they don’t know to try it and go outside. but since the farmer is unlocking that door he is able to label the chickens as free range. so while the slightly tougher chicken isn’t my favorite, it’s good to know that this chicken really walked around a pasture and ate grass and grubs. it’s also nice to feel good about supporting a local farm too!

oh, and a few hours later we had a little dessert. chocolate ice cream for me, and homemade strawberry sorbet for my lactose-intolerant husband…

now i’m off to enjoy some retail therapy while the remains of the chicken simmer into stock in the crock pot…



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