Thursday, March 4, 2010

Follow up for the first roasted local chicken...

It was a delight to enjoy. Local, chem-free chickens are usually referred to tasting "extra-chickeny" and I understand why. This one was from Mainely Poultry in Warren, Maine and it was really tasty. Unfortunately, I have no photos due to poor planning and immediate consumption.

I mentioned brining the bird in the original post (The Declaration) and that certainly lent a hand in flavor. Into a 4 quart pot I put 3 quarts of water, some bay leaves, peppercorns, 4 whole garlic cloves, 1/4 cup of salt (brines should taste like the ocean), and 1/8 cup of honey. Bring this mixture to a boil so it all dissolves and flavors mingle, then cool completely. I put my bird in a gallon freezer bag, poured the brine over, sealed it, and refrigerated it for 6 hours.

After the allotted time I removed the bird from the brine, rinsed it off, and then patted it as dry as possible. The bird was trussed and then sent sailing into a ripping hot saute pan with a light coat of oil. When the bottom was nicely browned the pan and bird went into a 400F oven for about 45 minutes. One note concerning the browned bottom *snicker* of an all-natural bird... They brown fast! I actually, embarrassingly, burned my chicken while browning the bottom. I have done a dozen or so birds this way and have my internal timer pretty well set. However, that was for mass-produced chickens and not my local "girl next door". My only thought is that the all-natural bird isn't injected with any solution so you deal solely with skin, fat, and meat. A processed bird has solution/brine in it and as you sear it, the moisture must come out and inhibit the browning process for a bit. Whether that is correct or not, I don't know, but I do know that my new poultry gets crispy in a hurry.

To test for doneness in your roasted chicken you can 1) guess 2) use a thermometer, aiming for 150F in my opinion 3) shake a leg and see if it moves freely. I like option 3 as it makes me feel like I got sweet moves on the dance floor. You know, shakin' a leg and all that!

When Mrs. Chicken was done I took her out and let her rest under foil while I made gravy. Proteins have carry-over cooking that occurs after the direct heat has been removed. The outside of your chicken/roast/steak is still really hot and letting the meat rest before serving does two things. First it will cook the meat a bit more, and the bigger the cut the more it will rise in temperature. You take a three pound roast and it might go up ten degrees in fifteen minutes while chillin' under some foil. Secondly, the juices inside will redistribute back into the meat and keep your slices much juicier. You see the opposite of this when you yank a steak off the grill, rip a chunk out with your teeth, and then the juice pours done your hands/arms as you dance around trying to cool your burning mouth. This is a classic Zube move, just so you know.

After resting and gravy production we feasted, reveled, and grinned with chicken tooth smiles and gravy smeared chins. I am sold. Local > Supermarket.


  1. Dude, I used to work with your buddy Tim Sacino and he directed me to your site. Awesome blog, man! Keep it rollin'. Great info...

    BTW, recently viewed 'Food, Inc.' ... Damn are we being blind-sided! I agree with the "girl next door" chix. We're having company over tomorrow night for an 'organic, free-range chicken' dinner. Thanks for the tip on the speed of cooking 'real' bird meat. Should prove to be very helpful in not burning our dinner.

  2. Glad to help! Food, Inc. is up next (I think) on our Netflix list. The farm where I am getting my birds has a sign up that simply says: "Have you seen Food, Inc? You should..."

    Cheers and thanks for following!