Tag Archives: pastured chicken

French Chicken in a Pot

20 Dec

In case you were wondering (TW, Donna, Lesly, Trish, and Steve in particular!) what I did with the last two pastured birds from the Restoration Farm Chicken Project…well let me catch you up!

Those new to the blog should know that we participated in a pilot pastured chicken share at our C.S.A. initiated by Trisha Hardgrove. The birds, five in all, were raised out on the farm, grazing and eating organic feed and processed right on-site. They were extraordinarily tasty and the texture was beautiful. So far I’ve done a traditional Asopao de Pollo (Soupy Chicken and Rice), a Rosemary-Lemon Roasted Chicken, and a Tandoori-Style Roast Chicken . My dad did the fourth in a lovely and warming chicken noodle soup, but I don’t have the recipe for that.

For the fifth and final bird of the season I went with another Cook’s Illustrated recipe, with, once again, only the very slightest modifications (a bit more rosemary, for example). The skin wasn’t crispy, but O.M.G. the tender savory chicken and the PAN JUICES. Wow. The secret is the Dutch Oven and not roasting your side vegetables in the same container, as they release a lot of liquid and dilute the chicken juices.

The instructions may look a bit long, but it is really easy – prep and forget. Effortless excellence!

I did oven-fried sweet potatoes separately for this one.

French Chicken in a Pot

You need a 6-quart Dutch oven with tight-fitting lid for this recipe

One 4.5-5 lb chicken, giblets removed

Salt and pepper

1 Tbs olive oil

1 small onion, chopped roughly

1 small rib celery, chopped roughly

6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs fresh rosemary (if desired)

½ – 2 tsp fresh lemon juice

  1. Place oven rack on lowest position and hear oven to 250°. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, season generously with salt and as much pepper as you see fit. Tuck wings behind back.
  2. On the stovetop, heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until just smoking. Add chicken, breast side down; scatter onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and (optional) rosemary sprigs around chicken. Cook until breast is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Using wooden spoon inserted into cavity of bird, flip chicken breast side up and cook another 6-8 minutes, until you get nice browning on chicken and vegetables.
  3. Off heat, cover top of pot tightly with aluminum foil and cover with lid. Transfer pot to oven and cook chicken until breast registers 160° and thighs register 175°.
  4. Transfer chicken to carving board, cover loosely with foil and rest for 20 minutes. Strain chicken juices from pot through a strainer and discard the solids. Let juices settle for 5 minutes , then set over medium heat in a saucepan. Carve chicken, adding additional juices to saucepan. Season with lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Serve chicken, with the sauce passed around separately.

Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken (Third Bird from Hardscrabble pastured chicken project!)

26 Sep

Trisha Hardgrove’s pastured chicken project at Restoration Farm is a complete success as far as we in the de Cuba Romero household are concerned. These birds are so beautiful to work with, so wonderfully textured, so flavorful, that they almost cook themselves. Going back to conventional factory-raised chicken is pretty much out of the question now, but even organic supermarket chicken cannot compare.

Having said that, we can all use a little enhancement to highlight our best features, and this simple roasting recipe, inspired by The Barefoot Contessa, is just the thing. The result was a juicy, tender bird and juicy, tender vegetables, infused with — but not overwhelmed by — lemon, thyme and garlic.

The original recipe called for the bird to be slathered with butter, but here we prefer olive oil. Mind you, we did NOT get a crispy skin, which may be what you are looking for. In that case, substitute same amount of melted butter. She also uses a fennel bulb where we use celery – again, just personal preference. This was a meal my dad, Pedro, and I did together – it is thanks to him that we were fearless with the salt. You really do want that much. We did not, however, put any additional salt on the vegetables and they didn’t need it. You can always finish them with salt at table.

The amount of thyme may seem a lot, but it really flavors the chicken and the vegetables. I am fortunate to have a bumper crop of French thyme in my container herb garden, so it was no problem for us. If you are buying at the store, you will want the equivalent of two fat fistfuls of sprigs for the whole recipe.

Lemon-Thyme Roast Chicken and Vegetables

1 4-5 lb roasting chicken

2 Tbs kosher salt, plus 1 tsp

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus several pinches

1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs

1 lemon, rinsed and sliced in half

1 head of garlic, unpeeled, but root end sliced off as much as you can. Slice the head in half, crosswise (through the cloves)

2 Tbs olive oil

1-1.5 cups onion, sliced thick (yellow, red or a mix of the two is fine)

2 Cups carrots, chopped into 1.5”chunks

1 Cup chopped celery

1-2 Cups additional chopped roasting vegetables of your choice – potatoes, turnips, parsnips, fennel for example

2 Tbs olive oil

Preheat oven to 425°F. Remove chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out, remove excess fat and pin feathers and pat dry.

Use the 2 Tbs salt and 1 Tbs pepper to salt and pepper the inside of the bird, then stuff the cavity with the thyme, lemon and garlic.

Brush the outside of the chicken with 2 Tbs olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wings under the body. Place the onions, carrots and celery in the roasting pan and toss with the remaining olive oil and 20 sprigs of thyme. Place the chicken, breast side up, on top of the vegetables.

Roast the chicken for 1.5 hours (to an internal temperature of 165° or until the juices run clear when you stick a knife between leg and thigh and the joints move freely in the sockets). Remove chicken and vegetables from roasting pan, arrange on a platter and let rest under a loose foil cover for 20 minutes before serving.

In the spirit of efficacy and energy-efficiency, we simultaneously roasted beets for a future salad and oven-fried potatoes (recipe to come). For the beets, simply cut off beet greens to an inch above the beet, wash and dry, wrap loosely in foil and stick in the oven with the bird. The beets will be done when the chicken is done. You can easily peel them and serve them with the chicken, or save them for something else in the next day or two.

One Week to Our First Pastured Chicken: Final Selection of Recipe Has Begun!

15 Jun

Leandro's first homegrown peapod

Just before this week’s visit to Restoration Farm, we went out into our yard where Leandro picked the very first pea pod from a plant he himself started from seed! We were very pleased, even though the peas weren’t so tasty raw. This was a random variety from a garden show craft, so we have high hopes for the others we planted – Burpees Garden Sweet (organic). His eyes reflected the magic of a seed transforming into food.

Trish and one of her flock

Then at Restoration Farm, we visited that other transformation into food; Trisha tells us that the pastured chickens are a week away from our cooking pots. They will be seven weeks and one day, and — we hope — about five pounds. She had initially planned to go to eight weeks, but due to the window of opportunity for processing and the fact that they are getting slower and heavier and more prone to disease, she figures next week is it!

Ignorance is bliss


Leandro still finds the chickens stinky (and really, they are pretty pungent at this point) and was more interested in drawing sweet beads of nectar out of the honeysuckle blossoms that are exhaling seductive breaths of fragrance all over the farm these days. He learned the art of drawing out the style from Farmer Steve and then taught me! Delicious.

Honeysuckle gives it up for Leandro

So now I am planning what to do with my first bird. As I expect it to be less fatty and moist than a factory bird or even an organic chicken from a large facility, I am thinking about dishes that will help contain the moisture and make the most of the added flavor that a slightly more muscular bird will have. I also want to do something that is already in Leandro’s growing list of delectable foods, so as not to risk some refusal. And then there is the desire to honor my Caribbean forebears who lived off the land (some still do, at least in part).

So… I’ve got two ideal candidates from the criollo* canon: arroz con pollo: chicken and rice,or asopao de pollo: soupy chicken and rice. Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on which one it should be!

*Criollo or Creole refers to the generations of colonialists actually born in the colonized place. In the case of Puerto Rico, the Spanish were the first Europeans to settle. They remained Spaniards, but their offspring born on the island (in many cases, half European and half native) were known as criollos – not quite European, but not quite native, either. Criollo cooking (like Creole in New Orleans, for example), reflects the meeting of different worlds of cooking ingredients and techniques.

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