How to Cook TENDER, Delicious, Pasture-Raised Poultry
The simple secret to tender pasture-rasied chicken is this: BRINE!!!
Nutritionally, a pastured chicken is far superior to traditionally raised chicken, and it also has far better flavor. Chickens that are running around on pasture eating insects, worms, and forage have a great taste, but they also have muscle tone. In addition, a healthy, heritage-breed chicken takes twice as long to reach meat weight as it's conventional counterpart, which has been specifically bred to do nothing but eat (usually copious amounts of GMO corn, soy, antibiotics, etc.), can hardly hold itself up due to it's rapid weight gain and freakishly large breasts, and reaches meat weight at only 6 weeks of age.
Due to these two factors, if you are used to eating supermarket chicken (and I am including "free-range" and "organic" here which are essentially raised the exact same way), a heritage-breed, pasture-raised chicken can be tougher than what you're used to. There is a very simple solution to this though. Simply use the thawing time to brine your chicken (can be whole or parts), in a salt-water brine. You can add any other seasonings you like, but I usually keep it easy. I simply put my frozen chicken in a pot, cover it with water and about a cup or so of sea-salt, and let it thaw like that overnight. It turns out DELICIOUS EVERY TIME!!
For more specific instructions on roasting a whole chicken, here's my favorite way to cook it:
- Thaw overnight (or just for several hours) in a salt-water brine
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees
- Pat chicken dry
- Butterfly the chicken by cutting out the back bone - This step is not necessary, but only takes a minute, and allows you to lay the chicken flat on the roasting pan. This results in more even cooking, shorter cooking time, and more skin showing to get that delicious crispy skin! You can watch a YouTube video if you're unsure how to do it.
- Rub butter over the entire surface of the chicken and under the skin (If you're under the impression that delicious butter from grass-fed cows is unhealthy, we can talk more on that later! :))
- Season however you like, but remember to omit the salt since it has been brined already.
- Roast until done - Usually about 45 minutes for me
- Let sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting