I am slightly obsessed with this cookbook, Jerusalem. Some of the pages are stained from use with various sauces and splatters, a sign of a well-used cookbook . In it I just happened to notice one detail that has literally changed the way I cook free range chicken.
For the first time in January I cooked a true free range bird we raised here at home on pasture. These birds are large, long-legged, lean and just a little different than the chickens you can buy at the grocery store. Free range birds have more dark meat, making them more flavorful. The legs on our birds are about twice the length of a grocery store bird, but the breasts are smaller. Contrast that to a typical bird sold in American grocery stores, raised in a warehouse that is pumped with antibiotics, growth hormones, and grain, so that they grow super fast with zero exercise. This results in near-non-existent leg muscles, more fat, and large breasts. They usually cannot hold heir own weight up on their weak little legs. It’s a sad situation…and a good reason to avoid brands like Tyson and Purdue and support your local farmers. I personally love Savannah River Farms and know they raise birds, but I think more options are showing up at the Forsyth Farmers market every year, too.
I thought I could cook our free range chicken just like any old chicken and decided to roast it in the oven with olive oil, fresh herbs, root vegetables and salt and pepper. No problem, right?
Well, the chicken came out dry on the outside, tough, and partially raw on the inside.
What did I do wrong?
According to Yottam Ottolenghi, cooking the chicken whole was my first mistake. In his cookbook, he cuts up the chicken and lets it roast in in some sort of delicious marinade and makes a grain side dish cooked in the juices.
I decided try that, cut up the chicken (after watching this Youtube video on how to cut up a whole chicken because I have never actually done that before) and out came this incredibly flavorful, tender, chicken.
Another perk is the roasting takes 35- 45 minutes, so you can make this recipe any night of the week if you prep the marinade the day before.
We have 27 new chicks as of March 9th, a mix of different breeds for egg-laying and meat,and I have been enjoying watching them go from little puffballs to doubling in size in about a week.
Meet Mr. Popper, based on the book Mr. Popper’s penguins. Can you tell why!?
In love and light,