My Favorite Roasted Chicken

One of the simplest pleasures in life is a good roasted chicken. I like to keep things simple. The quality of the chicken should be what  you taste. Start with the best. We raise our own chickens here at Sweet Water Farm. I know what they eat. I know how they are treated and I know they live a wonderful life until the moment they are processed. We don’t free range our birds for a couple of reasons. One is that a Cornish Cross meat bird, the kind commonly sold in stores, are bred to gain weight quickly and, because of that, aren’t good foragers. Our egg layers do free range. Instead we raise our chickens on pasture in chicken tractors. You can see a previous blog on what those entail. They are carefully fed a high protein diet and supplement with grass, bugs, weeds and dirt. The second reason is that Cornish aren’t the brightest chickens in the chicken house and aren’t good at going back into the coop at night so the tractors protect them from predators. Soooo. Start off with the best chicken you can buy. Splurge on your roasted chicken. You won’t regret it. Ours average 4-5 pounds and this makes a tasty bird.

 

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Thaw the chicken overnight in the refrigerator and remove at least an hour before baking. The goal is to reduce moisture in you oven which will cause the chicken to steam rather than bake and you will lose the delicious crisp skin in the process. Do not rinse your chicken. I know, I know. This is contrary to everything you’ve heard but trust me. Don’t add water. The very high roasting temperature takes care of anything lurking inside that dark, wet cavity. Dry the inside of the bird thoroughly with paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible and pat dry the outside.

 

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Salt the inside of the chicken using course sea salt and tie the legs together wrapping the string around the bird, holding the wings to the sides and tying at the neck. This takes a little practice to get it nice and snug but  you can do it. Be sure to use cotton string, sometimes called butchers string and available at any grocery store.

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Now salt this baby up. Really salt it. Use a couple of Tablespoons. The course salt will be brushed off after baking so it just seasons the bird. If you are on a salt restricted diet you may choose to skip this step. I hope not. The salt also dries the skin making it nice and crispy. No additional spices needed. Now you have two ways to roast this chicken. One is to pop it into a preheated 450′ oven until the your oven thermometer reaches 160′. It will continue to rise after you remove it from the oven. No worries. OR, this time of year, put it on the grill but be sure to spread your coals around the outside leaving room for the bird in the middle. You want indirect, hot heat. 425-450′. Cover it with the lid and LEAVE IT ALONE. Do not open the lid to check on it for at least an hour. We are talking about a big bird here. You may adjust your time according to the size of your bird.

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Invest in a good roasting pan. This one happens to be Cuisenart. I love that the rack is stainless steel. You  must have a rack for this. You can use a cooling rack over a 9X13″ pan. Just make sure you spray or oil the rack first. I cover the bottom of the pan with foil because it makes it easier to clean. I’m busy(lazy) you see. Now. For the finale. Here it is. The best roasted chicken ever.

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The best part about this simple chicken, besides the fact that you only need chicken, salt and string to make it, is that it can be used in any recipe if you have leftovers. The high cooking temperature crisps the skin causing the chicken to be moist and flavorful. Give it a try next time and if you are looking for pastured chickens for your freezer send us a message. We would be happy to help you out or point you in the direction for finding some near you.

 

 

 

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