Yummy Chicken

Had a wonderful chicken dinner on Memorial Day. My dear friend Carl, from Blue Pike Farm had a freshly processed chicken and he offered it to me. I, in turn, offered to have him over for dinner to share. It is a breed called Naked Neck. Now I don’t want to hurt Carl’s feelings but in life these are pretty ugly birds. The bird weighed out at 5 1/2 pounds. It was also organically raised- quality feed, free range and very lean. I did not want to to mess it up. I have roasted hundreds of chickens but I do know that mass produced chickens are different. I went on to a foodie group  to seek advice. The responses were amazing. Finally decided to follow the advice of some one who has dealt with similar birds. Jenny Rocco suggested using a compound butter under the skin. She was so right. Thanks, Jenny.  Because the bird was so lean it needed a little extra fat to keep it juicy during baking. I mixed butter with rosemary, parsley and some hot sauce plus a generous shake of salt. Worked the mixture under the skin.  I started the bird at 400 breast side down. After 30 minutes turned down the heat to 350 so the butter wouldn’t burn. After an hour of total baking I turned the bird breast side up.   This method keeps the breast from cooking too quickly and reduces the need for basting.  30 minutes later it was done. Let it rest a few minutes before carving. Let me say the chicken was delicious. Juicy and while firmer than regular store-bought chicken it was not tough. We rounded out dinner with fruit salad, broccoli salad and potatoes cooked with beets, onions and chard and garlic scapes, also from Blue Pike Farm.

In most situations- with a conventional bird- I like a very hot oven to crisp the skin. This method would not have worked, I am convinced with this leaner locally produced bird. Lesson to be learned- all chickens are not created equal. If you are like me and plan on buying more locally sourced and humanely raised poultry be prepared to be flexible in your cooking methods. The results will be worth it.

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