Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Heavenly Grilled Chicken!

Alright, I'm not trying to toot my own horn here but...last night I think I made the best chicken I've ever tasted.  Of course I can't really take all the credit.  Google might have had something to do with it!

Have you ever tried grilling a whole chicken?  Not a whole chicken cut up...really whole!  If not, you absolutely must try it.  It's fabulous.

Here's what I did.  I hesitate to call this a recipe because many of the steps are open to interpretation, but you'll get the idea.  It's super easy and so remarkably delicious!  Sorry there's no picture, but we ate it up too fast.

1.  If frozen, thaw your chicken (a pastured chicken from The Family Farm would be best, haha!).  I used 2 chickens about 2 lbs. each.  (We had a number of really small ones from our first batch).  But the method will work for larger birds, too.

2.  Brine chicken in salt water for about 2 hours.  Don't get all worried about amounts here.  Just dump about 1/2 cup sea salt in a freezer bag along with your chicken and add enough water to just cover it.

3.  Rinse chicken and pat dry.  Brush with olive oil all over.  Sprinkle with your favorite herbs and put a few in the cavity.  Again, this is open to what you have on hand.  Here's what I used:

On the outside:
-olive oil
-lemon pepper seasoning
-Alderwood-smoked sea salt (wonderful stuff, from a local lady who makes spices!)

And the cavity:
-1 sprig fresh rosemary
-3 sprigs fresh oregano
-about 1/4 onion

4.  Preheat grill--gas is best for this.  Light just one side on high.  When grill is hot, place chicken breast down on the unlit side of the grill.  You are essentially making an "oven" with the grill.  Grill with lid closed for about 90 minutes for an average 4-5 lb. chicken (ours, of course, went a little faster!)  Rotate chicken (don't flip it over; rotate like a clock!) halfway through cooking.  Resist the temptation to keep opening the grill lid to peek!  This lets all the heat out of your oven!  Test for doneness with a meat thermomete inserted in the meatiest part of the thigh--you're looking for 160 degrees.  When done, remove and let sit for 10 minutes before carving.

Simply delicious.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Factory Farm vs. Pastured Poultry: a Side-by-side Test!

We just had our first batch of pastured poultry processed this morning, and I was eager to try one side by side with a store-bought, factory-style chicken.  I must say, I was shocked at the difference; not so much in appearance, but in taste and texture.

I bought the smallest chicken our local Meijer store had, which was over 5 1/2 lbs.  Ours was about 3 1/2 lbs.  For the sake of giving you a true side-by-side comparison, I did not edit these photos in any way.

Store-bought on left, ours on right

In the roasting pan.  A little butter in the cavity along with some celery.  Sprinkled with salt and pepper...that's it!  Wanted to really taste the "chicken" flavor.

Our chicken, done!  Notice the beautiful, even browning on the skin and nice proportion of the legs to the breast.

Store-bought, done.  This bird has such huge breasts that the skin was split, leaving it to dry out during roasting.  Also notice how the whole bird seems puny compared to those giant breasts...I have no idea how that poor bird could even walk.  

I shredded a bit of breast meat from each bird to show the difference...ours on the left, store's on the right.

I think the most shocking difference to me was the difference in texture between the two birds.  The only way I can really describe it is that our pastured chicken had substance, where the factory-farmed bird mush.  See the difference in the photo above?  Now don't get me wrong...ours was not "tough" in any way.  Just a very satisfying meatiness.  The mushiness of the other bird struck me as seeming really unnatural.

And how about taste?  Ours was, once again, far superior.  About the only flavor present in the store bought chicken was the salt solution they get bathed in before packaging.  In fact, the breast meat closest to the bone in the middle of the bird pretty much had no flavor at all.  The pastured chicken, on the other hand, had a rich "chickennish" flavor all the way through, in both the white and dark portions.  

Hands down winner?  Our organic pastured poultry!  We'll be running another batch starting in August, so give some a try!