Nothing beats the flavor of pastured poultry, but learning to keep it tender and juicy is the real secret to a great dinner.
Free range chicken is very muscular because the birds actually get to use their muscles. It can be even tough if not properly cooked.
To get a tender chicken, first you will need to marinate the bird in your refrigerator over night in a solution. Brine made with 1 cup of sea salt to 1 gallon of water works well, but I have also used milk with salt, and vinegar with herbs and salt too. This practice isn’t new, grocery store birds are injected with “up to 31% solution.” I have actually read that on the package. Who knows what the solution might be, but it is intended to tenderize the meat. You should do the same step, but only not with the chemical garbage that you buy in grocery store birds.
The next step is to take the bird from the solution, rinse well if it was just brine and season according to your favorite recipe. I like to use a sticky chicken recipe:
4 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspooon white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons fresh thyme chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mix seasonings and rub generously on the chicken. Free range chicken seems to turn out much better if it is stewed. So I put a couple of inches of water in the bottom of the pan, and the neck, liver and gizzard. This pan water can make excellent gravy later!
I cook free range chickens slower and longer than other birds. 300 degrees until the temperature of the meat is 165. I think that about 30 minute per pound is how long I usually take to cook ours, and most of our birds are 4 pounds for the whole chicken.
What else we are getting in our CSA this week will be…
Lettuce- maybe the last week for it!
Herbs to cook your free range chickens with!
Do any of you have a chicken recipe to share?