My favorite pastured chicken these days comes from Camp’s Road Farm, New Milford, Connecticut. I just got a five pound bird a couple past weekends ago, liver, gizzard and neck included. (Somehow the heart seems to have slipped out, but usually there’s one of those in there, too.) Just like in my youth — ah, comfort food!
My main adaptation to roasting a chicken — and yes, there are thousands of recipes out there in the blogosphere — is to roast it breast side down. This keeps the white meat moist and reasonably flavorful. (If you detect a bias towards the dark meat in my personal taste buds, you’d be correct.) One thing about cooking the whole chicken — you get to satisfy a lot of different taste preferences! And, there are so many things to be done with any leftovers!
If you want to serve a pretty presentation, that standard breast side up, simply rotate the bird about 20-30 minutes before it is done, so that the breast skin crisps up. and at that point I put it on a roasting rack, so that excess fat may drain away. (And the back side remains rather crispy, too.)
The variety of seasonings for your roasted chicken is endless! Actually, I usually use a fresh lemon juice base, with whatever spices and herbs strike my fancy at the moment. I find that adding leafy herbs later on in the cooking keeps them flavorful, but hardier spices can be added at the onset. (Which is what I did here.)
When I feast on a quality bird, I always save and freeze the bones, cartilage, and a little of the meat, for future bone broth. Also, the drippings, unless I’ve made a truly spicy roast chicken — I do like to make my bone broth flavorings somewhat “generic”, to keep my options open for recipes when I eat it later! (I learned this the hard way…)
For this reason, I also don’t brine truly quality birds. I don’t want to concentrate down the bones, cartilage and extra meat into a very salty bone broth. Sometime later, I’ll discuss my Thanksgiving 2013 brined heirloom Whole Foods turkey — which was wonderful, but as I couldn’t use the leftovers for bone broth, so I didn’t post about it — and, while I was planning a 2014 non-brined heirloom bird, I don’t think it will happen this year. Possibly December.
In this dish, I reserved the gizzard and liver (and the heart, where it available), for other options. I removed the skin from the neck and used the neck, although this does make a wonderful addition as-is to bone broth, if desired instead.
If you don’t have the Penzey’s seasoning, note that it contains the following (and that you can adapt to whatever hits your fancy from your kitchen herb and spice rack): This one contains salt, paprika, allspice, nutmeg, cayenne, various ground peppers, cinnamon, thyme, ginger.
ROASTED PASTURED CHICKEN
NOTE: Special equipment recommended: a roasting rack.
- 1 large chicken – this one was 5 pounds (with the offal still inside), remove all offal except the neck and reserve, and the neck should be skinned. Remove all fat pads and discard.
- 1 teaspoon oil. I use either olive or avocado oil.
- 1 rather small onion, peeled, and ends cut off, but otherwise left whole.
- Approximately 1.5 teaspoon of Penzey’s BBQ of the Americas rub, divided.
- Approximately 1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper, divided.
- Optional: Juice from one half lemon (didn’t have this time so didn’t use).
Pre-heat oven to 325 F. (350 F for a supermarket bird.)
Wipe the chicken with the oil on a paper towel.
Put the chicken into your roasting pan breast side down. Tuck in the onion and the neck (the onion for sure, the neck is optional) into the body cavity. These items should loosely rattle around in there — no tight stuffing! Sprinkle/spread half of the BBQ of the America’s seasoning, and half of the black pepper over the exposed surface. Use the lemon juice if at hand.
The cooking rule of thumb is (for unstuffed or minorly-stuffed birds is:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Roast whole (thawed) chickens for 20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 15 minutes.
Note that pastured birds work best about 15-20 degrees F less than published for supermarket birds. Note that I didn’t say “organic” birds — I would cook them the same amount of temperature as supermarket birds. They really don’t get out and play, either.
When you have only about 20-30 minutes left of cooking time, pull the chicken out of the oven and flip it onto that cooking rack (which you will place over your roasting pan, to avoid mess). Add the rest of the seasonings above, on top,then slide back into your oven for another 20-30 minutes.
Pull out of the oven, and rest for 5-10 minutes, and then enjoy, reserving leftover bones and any (de-fatted) juices for bone broth, which you certainly can freeze until you accumulate enough of them, and have the time to make the bone broth. Yes, you will be cooking them for a long time, so it is sanitary!