A New Contributing Writer
It was a liberating day for me when I realized that 1. I did not know everything there is to know in the world, and 2. I don’t have to because there are other people who do. I just had to make more friends who knew more stuff, that I can do. FoodCyclist Farm is about community and collaboration. That is why I started a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture.
Part of my growing community is a CSA member named Tal. Tal has been the gold standard of CSA members. She was one of the first members of the farm, she has been to visit a number of times, she has donated baby clothes and a baby bike seat, and is now contributing to the blog.
I love sharing information. I also love to eat. That is why I have a website and a farm, they allow me to do both. Tal had a great chicken recipe that was passed down to her from her Grandmother. Not only was she willing to share the recipe with you and me, she also cooked the dinner for Kate and I recently. That way I know it is really good!
She will be writing a few more articles in the future about what exactly to do with a chicken. She is an amazing cook and has thoroughly researched sustainable food in our area. If I ever have a question about my local food, I turn to Tal. I now turn it over to her (with my photos to help illustrate).
Grandma Shirley’s Whole Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetable Recipe
For as long as I can remember, my Grandma Shirley cooked amazing food for our family. Most of the table was set with traditional Jewish food like brisket, noodle kugel, and matzo ball soup. The roasted chicken was the part that truly fascinated me as a wide-eyed, and hungry child. When it came out of the oven, it looked so amazing. It got stripped of all the best parts almost immediately. My sister ate the skin off the top, my father nabbed the wings, I took a drumstick and we all gobbled up the roasted root vegetables basting in sweet dark juices. What was left to serve? If ever the chicken made its way out of the kitchen, it was a result of the diligent shooing away of big appetites in little kids by the elder generation.
As the cook in our household (and sous chef, waitress, dishwasher), I have made Shirley’s traditional chicken hundreds of times. Why mess with perfection? After combing many cookbooks and blogs to learn new techniques, I came across two things that I have incorporated to form a perfect culinary marriage.
2 Things that Make a Perfect Culinary Marriage
The first is salt. I have always seasoned my chicken and then popped it into the oven. All About Roasting by Molly Stevens explains that salting your chicken with kosher salt (about ½ teaspoon per pound of bird) and letting it rest uncovered in the refrigerator for 24 hours (over a pan to catch drips) will provide a juicer and more flavorful meat. All the salt will disappear. The skin of the bird will look dry and tight and cook up super crisp. I found this article from Food and Wine where the writer tests out the two conflicting prep methods on a variety of meats and finds that preparing a chicken in this manner provides a balance to the flavor and a more tender chicken.
The second is butter. Who doesn’t love butter? Shmeering it under the skin by hand, what could be better? I don’t know where I saw this technique but I found it would enhance the crispiness of the skin. My children like a plain chicken but you could put fresh herbs or chopped garlic under there. The possibilities are endless.
Once a friend of my grandmothers asked for one of her cherished recipes. Without giving it a thought, Shirley immediately replied with a “sure”. I remember thinking that she was being so generous to give away secret family recipes. A few days later, the friend returned saying that the dish was good but it didn’t have exactly the same flavor and that it seemed like the dish was lacking something. Turns out that Shirley was very free with her recipes however she always left out one secret ingredient. The one that would ignite the taste buds the most. In the case of the roasted chicken, it was the Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt. Have you ever thrown a few red-hots in your applesauce? We can get to that later.
- 1 whole (FoodCyclist Farm) chicken (approximately 4 pounds)
- 1/2 A stick of butter
- Fresh Herbs (optional)
- One whole head of garlic separated and left unpeeled (though you can peel if you want)
- Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt
- 2 large yellow sweet onions
- 2-3 potatoes
- 6 Large carrots
- 3-4 parsnips
- Season the chicken with kosher salt
- Let rest uncovered over a drip pan in the fridge for 24 hours
- Slide your fingers under the skin and smush butter, and optional herbs
- Place the chicken in a roasting pan, breast side up
- Slice two onions and place around the chicken
- Cut up carrots, potato, and parsnip to about ½ inch thickness.
- (Diagonal cuts work nicely with root vegetables)
- Spread unpeeled cloves of garlic throughout the vegetables
- Sprinkle generously with Krazy Mixed up Salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder
- Bake for 30 minutes at 450 degrees
- Lower the temperature to 350 until done.
- Add water to the bottom of the pan as needed so you get thick dark juice
- Occasionally give the veggies a stir.
I want to thank Tal again for the great recipe, article, and fabulous dinner. I love hearing other people’s food stories and them passing them on. I am looking forward to sharing more of her awesome food knowledge here on the blog.
Whether you buy chicken from me this year or not I hope you enjoy the recipes and try eating some more classic home made chicken this year. I do have to say again that the ingredients make the dish. I became a chicken farmer because regular store chicken tastes like nothing and it dries out in a heartbeat.
I have left so many of my chickens in the over too long and they are always juicy and delicious. Good to know if you don’t have a lot of confidence in your cooking abilities. I should market my birds as “almost impossible to screw up”.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, I hope you enjoy your time in the kitchen.
Interested in writing for the farm blog?
Pitch me an idea. Could be a recipe, something about the benefits of organic and pasture raised foods, or anything about chickens. I am completely open to submissions. Just let me know ahead of time before you put the work into writing it so I can make sure it fits the voice of the blog.