After some pondering and ciphering I’ve decided to make the final delivery spot the back parking lot.
Again, depending on your situation, coolers are probably a good thing to bring.
As were closer to ‘cooking’ time, I wanted to address a couple of things about pastured chickens and what to expect. I know many of you are familiar with how they’ll be but if you’ve never cooked/tasted one before, it’s different from what you’ve been conditioned to accept by commercially processed/raised birds. Not only are they loaded with more nutrients and less fat, but the texture and flavor of the meat is different. The meat is more dense. The reason for the dense meat is that pastured poultry are raised on a diet of vegetables and grains and are allowed to grow at their natural growth rate. Plus, they gets lots of exercise (birds you buy in the store get NO exercise as they are kept in cramped quarters, thus they put on pounds faster). Ours are not pumped with feed to make them grow faster, so there is less intramuscular fat, and the fibers of the meat are what they are supposed to be. After doing this for a few years, I’ve come to realize that the only thing that you taste when you commercial meats is typically the seasonings, not the actual meat. Not so with grass fed meats. Yes, you’ll probably use seasonings but I encourage you to try at least some without. You’ll notice a big difference.
That being said, we’ve also found that to maximize that flavor and to maximize the juiciness and tenderness of the meat, roasting is absolutely the best way of cooking these types of chickens. I’ve been through the process of grilling, frying, ‘shake and baking’ and they all work out fine. But the absolute finest way of experiencing these birds are by roasting. I encourage you to at least try one of your birds this way to see what I mean. I think you’ll find it amazing.
Here’s some tips and recipes to encourage you to do so (sorry for the length):
The secret to fantastic home cooked grass fed meat and pastured poultry is, slow down. Turn DOWN the heat on your stove or grill. Start by lowering your cooking temperatures. Grass fed meat and pastured poultry don’t respond as well to high heat. Bring the meat to room temperature and allow the muscles to relax. Keep the grill medium or low. Make sure the frying pan is not heated to screaming.
Cooking on lower heat may take a bit longer, but it allows the tissues to break down and the meat to receive the flavor of the seasonings or the goodness of the charcoal cooking. Crock pots were made for grass fed roasts and chickens.
You can brine the bird in a solution of water, sea salt, and sugar for 1 hour to a day. For every gallon of cool water, add about 1 cup of salt and 1/2-cup sugar. You may use sea salt or kosher salt. If you wish to brine small pieces you will only need about 1-2 hours. This causes a water/salt exchange in the cells of the flesh that will leave it moist and tender when cooked, even if you happen to overcook it. In your brine, you may also add things like bay leave, cayenne, juniper berries, coriander, onion, and/or garlic.
After you finish brining it, remove it from the water and pat dry with a clean towel. Stuff the underside of the skin (between the breast and the skin and around the thighs) with caramelized onions, garlic, thyme, sage and pepper. You can use any seasoning, just remember that the meat should be fairly salted from the brine so do not add more salt. Roast in oven preheated to 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes or until the temperature reads 165 degrees. Or in a crockpot until the meat is falling off the bone! Remove and let it rest for at least 15-20 minutes before carving (or else you’ll loose all of your juices).
Recipe for Basic Roasted chicken:
· 1 chicken
· 2 Tbsp. olive oil or butter
· 1 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
Note: Start this recipe at least 4 hours and up to 1 day ahead.
1. Rinse chicken with cool water. Dry with paper towels. Use your fingers to loosen the skin from the meat on the breasts and thighs.
2. Measure out 1/2 tsp. salt per pound of chicken (i.e. a 4-lb. chicken will need 2 tsp. salt). Rub salt all over chicken, including under the loosened skin. Set chicken breast-side up in a roasting pan and chill up to 36 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 400°. Rub breasts and top of thighs with oil or butter. Pour wine or broth into bottom of pan. Roast, undisturbed, until browned, about 45 minutes.
4. Reduce heat to 325°, spoon some pan juices over the chicken, and continue roasting until meat pulls away from ends of drumsticks and thighs joints feel loose and move easily when you wiggle the end of a drumstick, about 30 minutes (cooking times for chicken vary greatly depending on size, temperature going into the oven, and precision of oven temperature, so go by how the chicken looks and feels, not the clock). Experienced chefs also know that a fully-roasted chicken makes a slight hissing whistle or “singing” sound.
5. Let chicken sit for at least 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to large cutting board and carve. Serve hot, warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
· Herb Chicken: tuck 1/3 cup fresh herbs — such as thyme, sage, or oregano — under the skin before roasting.
· Lemon Chicken: gently squeeze 2 lemon halves over chicken before adding wine to pan. Stuff lemon halves into the chicken cavity.
· Spicy Chicken: add 1/4 tsp. cayenne to salt mixture.
· Chicken with Roast Vegetables: add halved or quartered root vegetables to pan after the first 15 minutes of cooking.
· Garlic Chicken: rub 1 to 2 cloves minced garlic under the skin before roasting. You can also add whole cloves of garlic to the pan.
· Smokey Chicken: add 1 tsp. smoked paprika (pimenton de la vera) to salt mixture.
See you on Thursday!